JT Rule of Law – Dog owners beware!! Georgia has long recognized that the keeper of an animal known to have vicious or dangerous propensities owes a duty of care with respect to the management and restraint of the animal for the protection of those who may come in contact with it. OCGA Section 51-2-7. When it comes to dog bites, the requirement that the keeper of a dog must be proved to have knowledge of the vicious or dangerous nature of his/her dog has become known as the “first bite rule.” Steagald v. Eason S16G0293 (GA Supreme Court March 6, 2017). On March 6, 2017, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled the “first-bite” does not necessarily apply. In Steagald, the dog keepers knew that their pit bull snapped at a couple of people in the weeks before the dog attacked and injured Mrs. Steagald. The Court ruled that the mere snapping by the dog may be sufficient to place the dog keeper on notice that their dog is dangerous and could subject them to civil responsibility if the dog bites and injures someone. If you have a dog that bites, snaps, lunges at people please make sure to keep your dog secured (lease, pen, spare room) when you have guests.