PHOTO: Member's of Emily Colvin's family, Senator Steve Livingston (R-Scottsboro), Governor Kay Ivey (R), Rep. Nathanial Ledbetter (R - Rainsville), and Rep. Tommy Hanes (R - Bryant). (Contributed Photo)
By Tyler Pruett, Managing Editor
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Late last week, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed Senate Bill 232 in to law, which has been named, "Emily's Law." The law seeks to hold pet owners criminally liable if their dog causes injury or death to another human.
24-year-old Emily Colvin was killed by a pack of dogs while retrieving a package on December 7, 2017 at her home located in Jackson County; near the County line between Section and Rainsville.
The attack involved 5 dogs, which were described as, "pit bull dogs." One of the animals had to be euthanized by the Jackson County Animal Control Officer when he arrived on scene. The other four animals were put down around a month ago, after the opportunity for appeal by the owners ran out.
As far as the owners are concerned, according to Jackson County District Attorney Jason R. Pierce, the matter has went before a grand jury.
"We're currently waiting for the grand jury to release the results," said Pierce.
"Jackson County already has a law on the books regarding this, and I'm glad it's going statewide," said Pierce, regarding the new law. "It gives us a criminal statute to address it. It gives the courts the ability to designate animals who attack, 'dangerous dogs' and have them put down if they harm a human, such as what happened in this case."
"If we did not have this law, Mrs. Colvin's case would be more difficult," explained Pierce.
“For too long, no one has been held responsible for the actions of their animals and we have had Alabamians that have been severely injured or killed,” Senator Steve Livingston said, who sponsored the bill in the Alabama Senate. “I want to thank Representatives Ledbetter and Hanes for carrying this bill in the House and Governor Ivey for signing the legislation and encouraging our citizens to practice responsible pet ownership.”
Under the new law, a dangerous dog is defined as a dog, regardless of breed, that has killed, maimed, or attacked someone without provocation. The newly minted law makes it a class B felony if someone is killed by an owner’s dog, if it has been previously declared dangerous. Courts are also given the authority to order the animal to be humanely euthanized.
“No family should have to suffer the pain and loss that Emily Colvin’s family has felt,” Representative Tommy Hanes (R-Scottsboro) said, who helped shepherd the bill through the House of Representatives. “Most dog owners are responsible people, but we should throw the book at lazy and irresponsible dog owners who knowingly allow aggressive and dangerous dogs to roam about endangering people.”
If a court establishes that a dog is dangerous, but hasn't caused serious physical injury or death, the owner could be allowed to keep the dog. The owner must register the animal annually with animal control or the county health department, have the dog spayed or neutered, have the animal permanently identified with a microchip or tattoo, and obtain a $100,000 bond protecting against injuries by the dog.