Georgia Criminal Defense Blog

Georgia Doctor Convicted of Cruelty to Animals After Discovery of Over 400 Birds in Home

Posted by Richard Lawson | Jun 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

Two years ago, a cardiologist in DeKalb County was arrested when authorities were called to his house on reports that he was hoarding birds in his home. According to the complaints and reports, there were over 400 birds in his house, and “all were in various states of malnutrition and dehydration.”

At the time of the investigation and arrest, it was one of the worst cases of animal hoarding police had seen in Atlanta. He pled guilty to the crime yesterday and was sentenced to 7 years of probation.

As a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer, I will focus today's post on the law behind cruelty to animals in Georgia. 

Cruelty to Animals in Georgia

Georgia Law defines animal cruelty in Georgia as:

A person will be guilty of cruelty to animals when they:

  • Cause physical pain, suffering, or death to any animal by any unjustifiable act or omission; or
  • Intentionally exercise custody, control, possession, or ownership of an animal and fail 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. O.C.G.A. §16-12-4.

In order to be convicted of cruelty to animals in Georgia, the prosecution will have to prove the accused person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. A person convicted of cruelty to animals will be guilty of a misdemeanor. However, a second conviction of cruelty to animals will result in a conviction of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. The penalty for a misdemeanor in Georgia is up to one year in jail and a fine of no more than $1,000.

Practice Note

It's important to note that there are times that certain acts like injuring or killing an animal are warranted. If a person reasonably believes that such an action is necessary to defend against an imminent threat of injury or damage to any person, other animal, or property. 

However, if the animal is killed, our state requires that the method used to kill the animal must be as humane as reasonably possible under the circumstances. These situations and conditions bar against criminal liability for causing the injury or death of an animal.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime in Georgia, contact us today. A Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney can help you with your case and decide which of the Georgia Criminal Defenses work the best for your case.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Managing Partner at Lawson & Berry:


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