Cedartown, GA asked in Animal / Dog Law for Georgia

Q: can a home owner of a house be fined for animal abuse even if the dog is not theirs?

My boyfriend is a homeowner, but the occupants who live with him refuse to take care of their dog and wont let us help the dog. Refuses us to be able to get vaccinations, flea prevention, everything. A few years ago, the people who live with my boyfriend, picked this dog up off the street, and has refused to take proper care of the dog since. Me and my boyfriend have been afraid of reporting it because he is afraid of being fined for animal abuse even though he isn’t responsible for the dog, the people who live with them are. What can be done? Any tips? I dont want this dog to suffer anymore, but i dont want my boyfriend fined for animal abuse that he isnt even responsible for.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Michael W. Horst
Michael W. Horst
  • Alpharetta, GA
  • Licensed in Georgia

A: Georgia law provides "[a] person commits the offense of cruelty to animals when he . . . [h]aving 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." O.C.G.A 16-12-4. In your case, it does not sound like your boyfriend "intentionally exercised custody, control, possession, or ownership" of the dog if the dog is the pet of the other occupants in the home. That means it does not seem your boyfriend is at risk of being fined.

I suggest contacting the Cedartown Polk County Humane Society at (706) 252-4412. They may be able to best advise you on your options to help the dog.

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