ATLANTA (October 29, 2010) – Senate Democratic Leader Robert Brown (D-Macon) held a hearing on Georgia’s animal cruelty law this week at the State Capitol, where he heard from several experts in animal abuse cases on how the law can be strengthened and improved. Brown overhauled existing animal cruelty laws in 2000 when he authored the Animal Cruelty Act (Senate Bill 297), allowing animal abuse to be charged as a felony, rather than a misdemeanor.
“Animal abuse is often an indicative trait of future acts of violence against humans, and prosecuting such behavior is our first line of defense against potentially dangerous criminals,” said Brown. “Since its passage a decade ago, I felt it was time to revisit the law and see if there are ways we can improve its effectiveness. We need to give law enforcement and our courts the best tools possible to prosecute the abuse of innocent animals, and by doing so we can help prevent such violent behavior before it reaches a human victim.”
Several witnesses agreed that the law should allow for cases of animal neglect and deliberate torture to be prosecuted as a felony. Kimberly Schwartz, an assistant district attorney in Macon, noted that the legislation restricts felony charges to include only specific cases where death, disfigurement or the loss of a body part occur. Often times however, torture or neglect may not result in those specific instances but is still a violent act that warrants a harsher punishment.
According to Dr. Maya Gupta, president of the Ahimsa House, a domestic abuse shelter that accepts both victims of domestic violence and their pets, the law has helped raise awareness of animal abuse and judges are now prosecuting animal abuse in domestic violence cases. She also noted that judges are including animals in protective orders. Gupta recommended that judges should also be allowed to require offenders to receive treatment for animal abuse, in addition to undergoing a psychological evaluation.
So far this year, Gwinnett County has had 33 cases of animal abuse according to Cpl. Paul Corso, who represented Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway at the meeting. Corso suggested that a statute be added to prosecute anyone who abuses an animal in front of a child. Brown plans to work with fellow lawmakers to discuss the recommended changes for legislation to be introduced during the 2011 Legislative Session that convenes in January.
Sen. Robert Brown serves as Democratic Leader. He represents the 26th Senate District which includes Twiggs County and portions of Bibb, Houston, and Wilkinson counties. He may be reached at his office at 404.656.5035 or by email at email@example.com.
For Immediate Release:
October 29, 2010
For Information Contact:
Natalie Strong, Director
Kallarin Richards, Senior Communications Specialist