Report Animal Cruelty


Report Animal Cruelty

§ 16-12-4. Cruelty to animals

MISDEMEANOR

(b) A person commits the offense of cruelty to animals when he or she:

(1) Causes physical pain, suffering, or death to an animal by any unjustifiable act or omission; or

(2) Having intentionally exercised custody, control, possession, or ownership of an animal, fails to provide to such animal adequate food, water, sanitary conditions, or ventilation that is consistent with what a reasonable person of ordinary knowledge would believe is the normal requirement and feeding habit for such animal’s size, species, breed, age, and physical condition.

FELONY

(d) A person commits the offense of aggravated cruelty to animals when he or she:

(1) Maliciously causes the death of an animal;

(2) Maliciously causes physical harm to an animal by depriving it of a member of its body, by rendering a part of such animal’s body useless, or by seriously disfiguring such animal’s body or a member thereof;

(3) Maliciously tortures an animal by the infliction of or subjection to severe or prolonged physical pain;

(4) Maliciously administers poison to an animal, or exposes an animal to any poisonous substance, with the intent that the substance be taken or swallowed by the animal; or

(5) Having intentionally exercised custody, control, possession, or ownership of an animal, maliciously fails to provide to such animal adequate food, water, sanitary conditions, or ventilation that is consistent with what a reasonable person of ordinary knowledge would believe is the normal requirement and feeding habit for such animal’s size, species, breed, age, and physical condition to the extent that the death of such animal results or a member of its body is rendered useless or is seriously disfigured.

§ 16-12-37. Dog Fighting

MISDEMEANOR

(c) Any person who is knowingly present only as a spectator at any place for the fighting

FELONY

(b) Any person who:

(1) Owns, possesses, trains, transports, or sells any dog with the intent that such dog shall be engaged in fighting with another dog;

(2) For amusement or gain, causes any dog to fight with another dog or for amusement or gain, causes any dogs to injure each other;

(3) Wagers money or anything of value on the result of such dogfighting;

(4) Knowingly permits any act in violation of paragraph (1) or (2) of this subsection on any premises under the ownership or control of such person or knowingly aids or abets any such act; or

(5) Knowingly promotes or advertises an exhibition of fighting with another dog

Cock Fighting – Georgia does not have a specific law on cock fighting but birds are protected under § 16-12-4. Cruelty to animals.

§ 4-11-15.1. Animal Abandonment

It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly and intentionally to abandon any domesticated animal upon any public or private property or public right of way.


For more information or assistance on a case, please contact us through email.

Jessica Rock
Director, Legal Advocacy & Law Enforcement Support
jrock@atlantahumane.org 

Mike Perkins
Director, Cruelty Investigations Division
mperkins@atlantahumane.org 

What Is the Legal Definition of Animal Cruelty in Georgia?

Animal Cruelty (misdemeanor charge): A person commits the offense of cruelty to animals when he/she causes death or unjustifiable physical pain or suffering to any animal by an act, an omission or willful neglect. Willful neglect means the intentional withholding of food and water required by an animal to prevent starvation or dehydration. O.C.G.A. 16-12-4

Adequate food and water means food and water that is sufficient in an amount and appropriate for the particular type of animal to prevent starvation, dehydration or a significant risk to the animal’s health from a lack of food or water. O.C.G.A. 4-11-2, 4-13-2

Humane care of animals means, but is not limited to, the provision of adequate heat, ventilation, sanitary shelter, and wholesome and adequate food and water, consistent with the normal requirements and feeding habits of the animal’s size, species and breed. O.C.G.A. 4-11-2, 4-13-2

Animal Cruelty (felony charge): 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…(paraphrased) except for conduct otherwise permitted under state or federal law. O.C.G.A. 16-12-4

Dog Fighting: A person commits the offense of dog fighting when he/she causes or allows a dog to fight another dog for sport or gaming purposes or maintains or operates any event at which dogs are allowed or encouraged to fight one another. O.C.G.A. 16-12-37

Cock Fighting (not legally defined): A person commits the offense of chicken fighting when he/she causes or allows a chicken to fight another chicken for sport or gaming purposes or maintains or operates any event at which chickens are allowed or encouraged to fight one another.

Report Abuse and Neglect Online to the Atlanta Humane Society Cruelty Investigation Division

Please contact the following organizations if you suspect animal cruelty. Please review the questions below if you would like guidelines on what constitutes animal cruelty.

Fulton County Animal Services Field Enforcement division: 404-613-0358

Horses, mules, donkeys, and zebras: 404.656.3713

Cattle, swine, goats, sheep, chickens, llamas: County Police Dept or County Sheriff’s Dept.

Whitetail deer, raptors, large cats: 770.761.3044

Circus or Zoo animals: 919.716.5532

Violence Against People and Pets: www.ahimsahouse.org

HELP PEOPLE AND PETS ESCAPE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE TOGETHER

Perpetrators of domestic violence often hurt family pets to control and intimidate their victims. Ahimsa House, Inc. – a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization – is dedicated to helping the human and animal victims of domestic violence across Georgia reach safety together. “Ahimsa” is a Sanskrit word meaning non-violence.

For more information, visit Ahisma House.

This paper is a work in process to help eliminate frivolous calls as well as provide reporting guidelines. We anticipate adding ‘Frequently Asked Questions,” “What Is NOT Cruelty,” and “What to Do If Authorities Do Not Respond.” Thanks to the Georgia Department of Agriculture, Georgia Animal Control Association, Georgia Veterinary Medical Association and the Georgia Coalition of Dog Fanciers, Inc. for their help.
Please send any suggestions to the Humane Association of Georgia, Inc., 1317 Hearst Drive, Atlanta, GA 30319.

HOW TO IDENTIFY AND REPORT ANIMAL CRUELTY IN GEORGIA

Provided by the Humane Association of Georgia, Inc.

Incidents of animal fighting or animal cruelty may go unreported because of a lack of understanding of what constitutes animal cruelty and the agency that should be notified when it is witnessed. This page explains the legal parameters surrounding animal cruelty charges and the various governmental agencies involved by animal species or activity. These guidelines should help direct you to the proper authority and allow more prompt and effective investigation of incidents. Use of these guidelines will enable the current enforcement manpower to concentrate on investigating, prosecuting and monitoring reported cases.

Animal Cruelty (misdemeanor charge): A person commits the offense of cruelty to animals when he/she causes death or unjustifiable physical pain or suffering to any animal by an act, an omission or willful neglect. Willful neglect means the intentional withholding of food and water required by an animal to prevent starvation or dehydration. O.C.G.A. 16-12-4

  • Adequate food and water means food and water that is sufficient in an amount and appropriate for the particular type of animal to prevent starvation, dehydration or a significant risk to the animal’s health from a lack of food or water. O.C.G.A. 4-11-2, 4-13-2
  • Humane care of animals means, but is not limited to, the provision of adequate heat, ventilation, sanitary shelter, and wholesome and adequate food and water, consistent with the normal requirements and feeding habits of the animal’s size, species and breed. O.C.G.A. 4-11-2, 4-13-2

Animal Cruelty (felony charge): 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…(paraphrased) except for conduct otherwise permitted under state or federal law. O.C.G.A. 16-12-4

  • Dog Fighting: A person commits the offense of dog fighting when he/she causes or allows a dog to fight another dog for sport or gaming purposes or maintains or operates any event at which dogs are allowed or encouraged to fight one another. O.C.G.A. 16-12-37
  • Cock Fighting (not legally defined): A person commits the offense of chicken fighting when he/she causes or allows a chicken to fight another chicken for sport or gaming purposes or maintains or operates any event at which chickens are allowed or encouraged to fight one another.
  • Witness: The name, address and telephone number of the person who witnessed the alleged incident. Such information may be kept confidential, depending on the particular agency; however, it is helpful for investigators to have a point of contact in the event of misdirection or miscommunication. Remember, the burden of proof falls upon the accuser.
  • Who: An accurate identity of the alleged perpetrator, if known, including name, address and telephone number, if possible; other helpful identifying information may include physical description, place of employment, description of vehicles (including tag numbers) and known associates or co-participants in the alleged criminal activity.
  • What and How: An accurate and exact description of the incident witnessed. The investigator must receive sufficient details and be able to verify substantial portions of the information as true before being used to establish probable cause. Document complete descriptions of the animals and associated conditions. Please include pertinent conversations with the alleged perpetrator and eyewitness accounts to reconstruct the exact happenings of what and how the incident occurred (written notes and PHOTOGRAPHS are very valuable–a picture is worth a THOUSAND words). Also include written documents or reports that verify conditions (e.g., veterinary examination finding
  • When: The date(s) and time(s) of the incident(s)
  • Where: The specific location where the incident was witnessed (physical address and city, community or county), including directions.
There are multiple places you can call if you suspect animal cruelty, including:

  • For Companion Animals (e.g., dogs, cats, exotic birds, pet rabbits, pot-bellied pigs): Report those persons holding an Animal Protection License issued by the Georgia Department of Agriculture (or those that should be licensed) to the Animal Protection Division at 404-656-4914, Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Animal shelters, rescue groups and humane societies that house animals, pet breeders, pet dealers, pet shops, pet groomers, kennels, aviaries all require an Animal Protection License which must be prominently displayed at each licensed place of business.
  • Report all other persons to the local law enforcement agency and the animal control office, if one exists in the area. Report to the municipal or county police department or county sheriff’s department using the non-emergency number, unless the alleged perpetrator is actively involved in an act that threatens an animal’s life. If you suspect that other crimes (e.g., illegal drug activity or gambling) are involved, be sure to report this as a part of the call.
  • For equine (e.g., horses, mules, donkeys, zebras): Report persons to Georgia Department of Agriculture Equine Health Section at 404-656-3713, Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. or to the local law enforcement agency and the animal control office, if one exists in the area.
  • For other livestock (e.g., cattle, swine, goats, sheep, poultry, llamas): Report persons to your local municipal or county police department or county sheriff’s department.
  • For captive wildlife or exotic animals (e.g., whitetail deer, raptors, large cats): Report persons to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Division at 770-761-3044, Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
  • For circus or zoo animals (e.g., elephants, primates, circus dogs): Report to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Animal Care, Regional Office, Raleigh, N.C. at 919-716-5532, Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
The website addresses for these agencies are listed below.

  • Georgia Department of Agriculture, Animal Protection Section licenses operators of animal shelters, rescue groups and humane societies that house animals, pet breeders, pet dealers, pet shops, pet groomers, boarding and training kennels, and aviaries and enforces the Georgia Animal Protection Act, O.C.G.A. 4-11-1. www.agr.state.ga.us
  • Georgia Department of Agriculture, Equine Health Section licenses operators of stables and enforces specific sections of the Georgia Animal Protection Act, O.C.G.A. 4-11-1, pertinent to equine. They also have jurisdiction over the care and treatment of equine under the authority of the Georgia Humane Care for Equine Act, O.C.G.A. 4-13-1. www.agr.state.ga.us
  • Local law enforcement (municipal or county police department or county sheriff’s department) enforces the criminal provisions of Cruelty to Animal, O.C.G.A. 16-12-4. An animal control officer is an individual authorized by local laws or by the governing authority of a county or municipality to carry out the duties imposed by local ordinance and certain articles contained with the Georgia Animal Protection Act, O.C.G.A. 4-11-12
  • Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division licenses individuals and companies engaged in the exhibition of wildlife and exotic animals (not normally domesticated) and enforces the Standard for Humane Handling and Care, O.C.G.A. 27-5-6. georgiawildlife.dnr.state.ga.us/
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Animal Care requires that minimum standards of care and treatment be provided for most warm-blooded animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially, or exhibited to the public. They license animal dealers (pet wholesalers, animal brokers, laboratory animal breeders and dealers, exotic and wild animal dealers), animal transporters (commercial airlines), animal exhibitors (circuses, zoos, promotional animal exhibits), and research facilities. They enforce the federal Animal Welfare Act and the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 9, Chapter 1, Subchapter A. www.aphis.usda.gov/ac/