University of Vermont AAHS

Georgia Cruelty to Animals Statutes


CODE OF GEORGIA
TITLE 4. ANIMALS
CHAPTER 11. ANIMAL PROTECTION
ARTICLE 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS



4-11-9.2 Inspections; impoundment of animals; exceptions.

(a) At any time there is probable cause to believe that a violation of this article or any rule or regulation adopted pursuant to this article has occurred, the Commissioner, his or her designated agent, or an animal control officer who is an employee of state or local government may apply to the appropriate court in the county in which the animal is located for an inspection warrant under the provisions of Code Section 2-2-11.

(b) Any sheriff, deputy sheriff, or other peace officer shall have the authority to enforce the provisions of this article and Code Sections 16-12-4 and 16-12-37.

(c) The Commissioner, his or her designated agent, an animal control officer who is an employee of state or local government, or any sheriff, deputy sheriff, or other peace officer is authorized to impound any animal:
(1) That has not received humane care;
(2) That has been subjected to cruelty in violation of Code Section 16-12-4;
(3) That is used or intended for use in any violation of Code Section 16-12-37; or
(4) If it is determined that a consent order or other order concerning the treatment of animals issued pursuant to this article is being violated.
(d) Prior to an animal being impounded pursuant to paragraph (1), (2), or (3) of subsection (c) of this Code section, a licensed accredited veterinarian approved by the Commissioner or a veterinarian employed by a state or federal government and approved by the Commissioner, shall, at the request of the Commissioner, his or her designee, an animal control officer, a sheriff, a deputy sheriff, or other peace officer, examine and determine the condition or treatment of the animal.
(e) The provisions of this Code section and Code Sections 4-11-9.3 through 4-11-9.6 shall not apply to scientific experiments or investigations conducted by or at an accredited college or university in this state or research facility registered with the Commissioner or the United States Department of Agriculture.

4-11-9.3 Caring for an impounded animal.

(a) It shall be the duty of any person impounding an animal under Code Section 4-11-9.2 to make reasonable and proper arrangements to provide the impounded animal with humane care and adequate and necessary veterinary services. Such arrangements may include, but shall not be limited to, providing shelter and care for the animal at any state, federal, county, municipal, or governmental facility or shelter; contracting with a private individual, partnership, corporation, association, or other entity to provide humane care and adequate and necessary veterinary services for a reasonable fee; or allowing a private individual, partnership, corporation, association, or other entity to provide humane care and adequate and necessary veterinary services as a volunteer and at no cost.

(b) Any person impounding an animal under this article or providing care for an impounded animal shall have a lien on such animal for the reasonable costs of caring for such animal. Such lien may be foreclosed in any court that is competent to hear civil cases, including, but not limited to, magistrate courts. Liens shall be foreclosed in magistrate courts only when the amount of the lien does not exceed the jurisdictional limits established by law for such courts.

(c) Any person impounding an animal under this article is authorized to return the animal to its owner, upon payment by the owner of all costs of impoundment and care and upon the entry of a consent order, unless such owner was, in a prior administrative or legal action in this state or any other state, found to have failed to provide humane care to an animal, committed cruelty to animals, or engaged in dog fighting in violation of the laws of this state or of the United States or any of the several states. Such consent order shall provide conditions relating to the care and treatment of such animal, including, but not limited to, the following, that:
(1) Such animal will be given humane care and adequate and necessary veterinary services;
(2) Such animal will not be subjected to cruelty; and
(3) The owner will comply with this article.

(d) The provisions of subsection (c) of this Code section shall not apply to an animal that was an object or instrumentality of a crime nor shall any such animal be returned to the owner without the approval of the prosecuting attorney. An agency having custody of an animal that was seized as an object or instrumentality of a crime may, with the consent of the prosecuting attorney, apply to the court having jurisdiction over the offense for an order authorizing such agency to dispose of the animal prior to trial of the criminal case as provided by law.


4-11-9.4 Notification of owner; custody of animal.

(a) It shall be the duty of any person impounding an animal under this article to notify the owner of such animal immediately upon impoundment. Such notice shall state the name and business address of the person impounding the animal, the name and address of the state or local government agency having custody of the animal, a description of the animal, the reason why the animal was impounded, and a statement of the time limits for the owner to respond and request a hearing as provided in Code Section 4-11-9.5. The notice shall be provided by personal service or by registered mail, certified mail, or statutory overnight delivery sent to the last known address of the owner. Service of the notice which complies with subsection (b) of Code Section 9-11-5 shall in all cases be sufficient. If the owner of such animal is unknown or cannot be found, service of the notice on the owner shall be made by posting the notice in a conspicuous place at the location where the animal was impounded and by publishing a notice once in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the animal was impounded.

(b) An animal impounded pursuant to this article is deemed to be in the custody of the state or local government agency responsible for enforcement of this article within said county or municipality.


4-11-9.5 Failure to respond; right to hearing; care; crime exception.

(a) If the owner of an animal impounded pursuant to this article fails to respond in writing within five business days of the date the notice of impoundment was served, or, if the owner is unknown or could not be found within 30 days of publication of the notice of impoundment, the impounded animal may be disposed of pursuant to Code Section 4-11-9.6.

(b) (1) If the owner of an animal impounded pursuant to this article refuses to enter into a consent agreement with the government agency having custody of the animal that such animal will be given humane care and adequate and necessary veterinary care, the owner may request, in writing, a hearing within five business days of the date the notice of impoundment was served on such owner, or, if the owner is unknown or could not be found, within 30 days of the date of publication of the notice of impoundment. Such request for hearing shall be served upon the government agency having custody of the animal. If no hearing is requested within the time limits specified in this paragraph and the failure to request such hearing is due in whole or in part to the reasonably avoidable fault of the owner, the right to a hearing shall have been waived.
(2) Within 30 days after receiving a written request for a hearing, the government agency having custody of the animal shall hold a hearing as is provided in Chapter 13 of Title 50, the "Georgia Administrative Procedure Act." If the animal is in the custody of an agency of local government which has, by local law or ordinance, established a procedure for hearing such
matters, the body designated in such local law or ordinance shall conduct the hearing required by this Code section. If the local government does not have a hearing procedure, the government agency having custody of the animal may refer the matter to the Office of State Administrative Hearings. If the animal is in the custody of the Department of Agriculture, the Commissioner or his or her designee shall conduct the hearing. The hearing shall be public and all testimony shall be received under oath. A record of the proceedings at such hearing shall be made and maintained by the hearing officer as
provided in Code Section 50-13-13.
(3) The scope of the hearing shall be limited to whether the impounding of the animal was authorized by subsection (c) of Code Section 4-11-9.2.
(4) The hearing officer shall, within five business days after such hearing, forward a decision to the person who impounded the animal and the government agency having custody of the animal.
(5) If the hearing officer finds that the animal was improperly impounded, the animal shall be returned to the owner and the cost incurred in providing reasonable care and treatment for the animal from the date of impoundment to the date of the order shall be paid by the impounding agency.
(6) If the hearing officer finds that the animal was lawfully impounded, the hearing officer may:
(A) Recommend that the government agency having custody of the animal dispose of the animal as provided in Code Section 4-11-9.6; or
(B) Unless, in a prior administrative or legal action in this state or any other state, the owner has been found to have failed to provide humane care to an animal, committed cruelty to animals, or engaged in dog fighting in violation of the laws of this state or of the United States or any of the several states, recommend conditions under which the animal may, upon payment by the owner of all costs of impoundment and care, be returned to the owner. Such conditions shall be reduced to writing and served upon the owner and the government agency having custody of the animal. Such conditions may include, but are not limited to, the following, that:
(i) Such animal will be given humane care and adequate and necessary veterinary services;
(ii) Such animal will not be subjected to mistreatment; and
(iii) The owner will comply with this article.

(c) The provisions of this Code section shall not apply to an animal that was an object or instrumentality of a crime nor shall any such animal be returned to the owner or disposed of without the approval of the prosecuting attorney.


4-11-9.6 Disposal of impounded animal.

(a) The government agency having custody of an animal impounded pursuant to this article which is not returned to the owner as provided in Code Sections 4-11-9.3 and 4-11-9.5 may dispose of the animal through sale by any commercially feasible means, at a public auction or by sealed bids, or, if in the opinion of a licensed accredited veterinarian or a veterinarian employed by a state or federal government and approved by the Commissioner such animal has a temperament or condition such that euthanasia is the only reasonable course of action, by humanely disposing of the animal.

(b) Any proceeds from the sale of such animal shall be used first to pay the costs associated with the impoundment, including, but not limited to, removal of the animal from the premises, shelter and care of the animal, notice, hearing, and disposition of the animal. Any funds remaining shall:
(1) If the owner is unknown or cannot be found, be paid into the state treasury if the animal was impounded by the Commissioner or his or her designated agent or into the treasury of the local government if the animal was impounded by the sheriff, a deputy sheriff, another law enforcement officer, or an animal control officer; or
(2) If the owner is known, be paid to the owner.

(c) The government agency responsible for conducting the sale shall keep a record of all sales, disbursements, and distributions made under this article.


4-11-10 Unlawful acts by licensed persons.

It shall be unlawful for any person licensed under this article or any person employed by a person licensed under this article or under such person's supervision or control to:
(1) Commit a violation of Code Section 16-12-4, relating to cruelty to animals;
(2) Fail to keep the pet dealership premises, animal shelter, kennel, or stable in a good state of repair, in a clean and sanitary condition, adequately ventilated, or disinfected when needed;
(3) Fail to provide humane care for any animal; or
(4) Fail to take reasonable care to release for sale, trade, or adoption only those animals that appear to be free of disease, injuries, or abnormalities.


CHAPTER 13. HUMANE CARE FOR EQUINES


4-13-1 Short title.

This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Humane Care for Equines Act."


4-13-2 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the term:

(1) "Adequate food and water" means food and water which is sufficient in amount and appropriate for the particular type of equine to prevent starvation, dehydration, or a significant risk to the equine's health from a lack of food or water.

(2) "Equine" means any member of the Equidae species, including horses, mules, and asses.

(3) "Humane care" means, but is not limited to, the provision of adequate food and water consistent with the normal requirements and feeding habits of the equine's size, species, and breed.

(4) "Owner" means any person owning, having possession or custody of, or in charge of an equine.

(5) "Person" means any person, firm, corporation, partnership, association, or other legal entity; any public or private institution; the State of Georgia; or any county, municipal corporation, or political subdivision of the state.


4-13-3 Prohibited acts.

It shall be unlawful for the owner of any equine:

(1) To commit a violation of Code Section 16-12-4, relating to cruelty to animals, which involves an equine owned by, possessed by, or in the custody or control of such person;

(2) To fail to provide adequate food and water to such equine;

(3) To fail to provide humane care for such equine;

(4) To unnecessarily overload, overdrive, torment, or beat any equine or to cause the death of any equine in a cruel or inhumane manner; or

(5) To interfere with or hinder the Commissioner or his designated agent or any sheriff, deputy sheriff, or other law enforcement officer in carrying out his duties under this chapter.


4-13-4 Inspection warrants; impoundment authorized; examination.

(a) At any time there is cause to believe that a violation of Code Section 4- 13-3 has occurred, the Commissioner of Agriculture or his designated agent may apply to the appropriate court in the county in which the equine is located for an inspection warrant under the provisions of Code Section 2-2-11 or any sheriff, deputy sheriff, or other law enforcement officer may apply for a search warrant for the purpose of inspecting any equine found on such property to determine if a violation of Code Section 4-13-3 has occurred. (b) The Commissioner or his designated agent or any sheriff, deputy sheriff, or other law enforcement officer is authorized to impound any equine which has not been furnished with adequate food and water, which has not received humane care, or which has been subjected to cruelty in violation of Code Section 4-13- 3. Such determination as to the condition or treatment of the equine shall be made by a licensed veterinarian employed by the state or federal government following an examination conducted at the request of the Commissioner or his designated agent or any sheriff, deputy sheriff, or other law enforcement officer.


4-13-5 Duty to care for impounded equines; lien; return to owner.

(a) It shall be the duty of any person designated for impounding an equine under Code Section 4-13-4 to make reasonable and proper arrangements to provide the impounded equine with adequate and necessary shelter, food, water, veterinary services, and humane care and to take such actions as to ensure the survival of the equine or the humane euthanasia of the equine and disposal thereof if such actions are necessary. Such arrangements may include, but shall not be limited to, providing shelter and care for the equine at any state, federal, county, municipal, or governmental facility or shelter, contracting with a private individual, partnership, corporation, association, or other entity to provide shelter, food, water, veterinary services, and humane care for a reasonable fee, or allowing a private individual, partnership, corporation, association, or other entity to provide shelter, food, water, veterinary services, and humane care as a volunteer and at no cost. Any person impounding an equine under this chapter or providing care for an impounded equine shall have a lien on such equine for the reasonable costs of caring for such equine. (b) The lien acquired under subsection (a) of this Code section may be foreclosed in any court which is competent to hear civil cases, including, but not limited to, magistrate courts. Liens shall be foreclosed in magistrate courts only when the amount of the lien does not exceed the jurisdictional limits established by law for such courts. (c) Any person impounding an equine under this chapter is authorized to return the equine to its owner upon payment by the owner of all costs of impoundment and care and upon the entry of a consent order or receiving written assurances:

(1) That such equine will be given humane care, adequate food and water, adequate shelter, and veterinary services;

(2) That such equine will not be subjected to cruelty; and

(3) That the owner will comply with this chapter.


4-13-6 Notice of impoundment.

It shall be the duty of any person impounding an equine under this chapter to notify the owner of such equine immediately upon impoundment. Such notice shall state the name and address of the person impounding the equine, the location where the equine is being held, and a description of the equine. If the owner of such equine is unknown or cannot be found, service of the notice on the owner shall be obtained by publishing a notice once in a newspaper of general circulation where the equine is impounded.


4-13-7 Disposal of equine by sale or euthanasia.

If the owner of the equine cannot be found, if the owner refuses to enter into a consent order or to provide a written assurance that such equine will be given humane care and adequate food, water, shelter, and veterinary care, or if the owner fails to comply with this chapter after having entered into a consent order or having given a written assurance on a previous occasion, the Commissioner or his designated agent, the sheriff, any deputy sheriff, or any other law enforcement officer may dispose of the equine through sale at a public auction or by sealed bids or, if such equine is in a physical condition such that euthanasia is the only reasonable course of action, by humanely disposing of the equine. Prior to disposing of an equine through sale or euthanasia, the Commissioner or his designated agent, the sheriff, any deputy sheriff, or any other law enforcement officer shall make a reasonable effort to locate the owner and, if the owner cannot be located after reasonable effort, the sale or euthanasia may proceed. Any proceeds from the sale of such equine shall be used first to pay the costs of care given the equine and any funds remaining shall be paid into the state treasury if the equine was impounded by the Commissioner or his designated agent or into the county treasury if the equine was impounded by the sheriff, a deputy sheriff, or other law enforcement officer.


4-13-8 Injunctive relief.

In addition to the remedies provided in this chapter or elsewhere in the laws of this state and notwithstanding the existence of an adequate remedy at law, the Commissioner is authorized to apply to the superior courts for an injunction or restraining order. Such courts shall have jurisdiction and for good cause shown shall grant a temporary or permanent injunction or an ex parte or restraining order restraining or enjoining any person, partnership, firm, corporation, or other entity from violating and continuing to violate this chapter or any rules and regulations promulgated under this chapter. Such injunction or restraining order shall be issued without bond and may be granted notwithstanding the fact that the violation constitutes a criminal act and notwithstanding the pendency of any criminal prosecution for the same violation.


4-13-9 Rules and regulations.

The Commissioner is authorized to promulgate and adopt rules and regulations necessary or appropriate to carry out this chapter.


4-13-10 Penalty for violation of chapter.

Except as otherwise provided in Code Section 16-12-4 or 16-12-37, any person, partnership, firm, corporation, or other entity violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

TITLE 16. CRIMES AND OFFENSES
CHAPTER 12. OFFENSES AGAINST PUBLIC HEALTH AND MORALS
ARTICLE 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS

 

16-12-4 Cruelty to animals.

(a) As used in this Code section, the term:
(1) "Animal" shall not include any fish nor shall such term include any pest that might be exterminated or removed from a business, residence, or other structure.
(2) "Conviction" shall include pleas of guilty or nolo contendere or probation as a first offender pursuant to Article 3 of Chapter 8 of Title 42 and any conviction, plea of guilty or nolo contendere, or probation as a first offender for an offense under the laws of the United States or any of the several states that would constitute a violation of this Code section if committed in this state.
(3) "Willful neglect" means the intentional withholding of food and water required by an animal to prevent starvation or dehydration.

(b) A person commits the offense of cruelty to animals when he or she causes death or unjustifiable physical pain or suffering to any animal by an act, an omission, or willful neglect. Any person convicted of a violation of this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor; provided, however, that:
(1) Any person who is convicted of a second or subsequent violation of this subsection shall be punished by imprisonment not to exceed 12 months, a fine not to exceed $5,000.00, or both; and
(2) Any person who is convicted of a second or subsequent violation of this subsection which results in the death of an animal shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature and shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than three months nor more than 12 months, a fine not to exceed $10,000.00, or both, which punishment shall not be suspended, probated, or withheld.

(c) A person commits the offense of aggravated cruelty to animals when he or she knowingly and maliciously causes death or physical harm to an animal by rendering a part of such animal's body useless or by seriously disfiguring such animal. A person convicted of the offense of aggravated cruelty to animals shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years, a fine not to exceed $15,000.00, or both, provided that any person who is convicted of a second or subsequent violation of this subsection shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years, a fine not to exceed the amount provided by Code Section 17-10-8, or both.

(d) Before sentencing a defendant for any conviction under this Code section, the sentencing judge may require psychological evaluation of the offender and shall consider the entire criminal record of the offender.

(e) The provisions of this Code section shall not be construed as prohibiting conduct which is otherwise permitted under the laws of this state or of the United States, including, but not limited to, agricultural, animal husbandry, butchering, food processing, marketing, scientific, research, medical, zoological, exhibition, competitive, hunting, trapping, fishing, wildlife
management, or pest control practices or the authorized practice of veterinary medicine nor to limit in any way the authority or duty of the Department of Agriculture, Department of Natural Resources, any county board of health, any law enforcement officer, dog, animal, or rabies control officer, humane society, veterinarian, or private landowner protecting his or her property.

(f) (1) Nothing in this Code section shall be construed as prohibiting a person from:
(A) Defending his or her person or property, or the person or property of another, from injury or damage being caused by an animal; or
(B) Injuring or killing an animal reasonably believed to constitute a threat for injury or damage to any property, livestock, or poultry.
(2) The method used to injure or kill such animal shall be designed to be as humane as is possible under the circumstances. A person who humanely injures or kills an animal under the circumstances indicated in this subsection shall incur no civil or criminal liability for such injury or death.


Amended in 2000, 2001.
Reviewed by AAHS in September 2001.


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