In Part I, we saw the actions Clint took to defend his dog from being killed by the neighborhood stray. Now, in Part II you will learn if his actions followed the law. Watch Independent Program Attorney Matt Kilgo teach you the law, so you will know what to do if you find yourself in a similar situation.
Paul Ready: Welcome back to Part II of our feature on defending your pets. In Part I, our member Clint was forced to defend his dog against an attack by another bigger dog. Many of you have asked what the law says about how and when you can defend your four-legged friends. The answer will be different depending on the law in your state. That’s why we’ve asked the Independent Program Attorneys in your state to tell us more.
Matt Kilgo: The law in Georgia gives a great deal of protection to you to protect yourself, your property, and your pet from other vicious animals or dogs. Let’s first talk about the general cruelty to animals statute in Georgia Official Code of Georgia 16 – 12 – 4.
Now, that statute says that you are legally justified in using force, or even deadly force to the degree there is a reasonable belief that such act is necessary, to defend against the imminent threat of injury or damage to any person, other animal, or property by the acts of another animal, In other words, if you, your property, or your animal are threatened by another animal, and you have a reasonable belief that you must act to protect yourself, your property, or another animal against that perceived threat, then the law justifies your use of force. A person who humanely injures or kills an animal under circumstances indicated in this subsection shall incur no civil liability or criminal responsibility for such injury or death. In other words, if you properly are justified in using force to protect yourself, your property, or an animal, then the law says you’re not civilly liable, and you bear no criminal responsibility. Now, that’s the Cruelty to Animals statute in Georgia.
There’s a secondary statute called cruelty to dogs. It’s a specific statute that deals with dogs and how you can protect yourself in a situation where you may be attacked by a vicious dog, or your pet is attacked by a dog. Official code of Georgia 4 – 8 – 5 is cruelty to dogs.
No person shall perform a cruel act on any dog, except that you may defend your home or person, or the person or property of another, from injury or damage being caused by a dog. Or more importantly, you may kill any dog causing injury or damage to any livestock, poultry, or pet animal. This law says that should you act against a dog to protect your pet, and that dog dies, you bear no criminal responsibility.
Now, there are some rules in place in order to avail yourself of the justification. Under the cruelty statute 16 – 12 – 4, you must not be in commission of a crime. You, or your animal, must not be trespassing on another property, and the acts to protect yourself, or your animal, must occur on the property where you’re threatened. In other words, you can’t go five blocks down to kill a dog after it’s threatened or bitten your dog. It must be imminent, which means about to happen, and it must be in a place on the property where the acts are occurring. Georgia law does provide you with a great deal of protection to protect yourself and your own animals or pets, such that if done properly then you bear no civil responsibility or civil liability or criminal responsibility
Paul: For more information on when you can use force in your state, please go to GunLawSeminar.com and register to attend one of our events in your area. If you missed Part I of Clint’s story, you can click the link on your screen to see it. And as always if you are not a member we would love for you to join us at uslawshield.com.