A house raid that took place on March 17th revealed a large dogfighting operation in Dodge County. It started when a Georgia State Patrol Trooper stopped a vehicle and noticed a bloody dog inside.
This instigated warrants and a visit to the house by authorities. Dogs were found chained outside, behind the house, and most did not have access to water or food. After further investigation, a dogfighting pit and training equipment were later discovered.
Over 60 dogs were found and rescued that day, and according to reports, seven people were arrested on various charges including: dogfighting, drug offenses, and cruelty to dogs.
Most people are unaware of the extensive fabric of laws that Georgia has in an attempt to protect animals. Crimes involving animals in Georgia are highly stigmatized as a result of different media coverage and horrifying stories, so an accusation can seriously damage someone's reputation.
Dogfighting, and even broader crimes like, cruelty to dogs or cruelty to animals in Georgia, are crimes that are particularly stigmatized as a result of the celebrity coverage years back - especially here in our state.
What does Georgia law state about cruelty to dogs?
Cruelty to dogs in Georgia is defined by the Georgia Code as:
No person shall perform a cruel act on any dog; nor shall any person harm, maim, or kill any dog, or attempt to do so. O.C.G.A. §4-8-5.
The statute does provide for a couple of exceptions including if the harming, maiming, or kill of a dog is in self-defense, defense of others, defense of property, defense of livestock, poultry or other pet animal. However, if someone is put in one of these situations and feels that killing a dog is absolutely necessary, then the method used for killing must be as humane as possible under the circumstances.
What is the penalty if found guilty for cruelty to dogs in Georgia?
If the State of Georgia finds an accused person guilty of cruelty to dogs beyond a reasonable doubt and convicts them of the crime, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor and is facing up to 12 months in jail, a fine up to $1,000, or both.
The recent story I mentioned above is an extreme example, which is mostly what is covered by mainstream media. Although a misdemeanor conviction may seem like no big deal - paying fines, spending time in jail, etc. - the stigma I mentioned earlier is tough with a crime like this. So much so, that usually if someone is merely accused of abusing an animal, there is an immediate hit to his or her reputation. In fact, most people will just assume guilt.
As a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer, I know that just because someone is accused of a crime - even one as stigmatized as animal abuse - does not mean he or she is guilty. No one should be automatically assumed guilty, and everyone deserves the right to have their day in court. It is of the utmost importance that you retain a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer, if you or a loved one has been charged with cruelty to dogs in Georgia. Contact us today.