I’ve had enough of feral cat colony stories lately, so when I got this email, it looked like something different. Very sad, but different.
“There was a very disturbing incident at my father’s home on Wilcox Way, and the city’s police and animal control say they can’t do anything to help,” A Concerned Reader named Laura wrote recently. “A beloved family cat was attacked and killed on her own front porch by two pit bulls that regularly get out of their owner’s yard. 911 was called but would not send police and said eventually animal control would come by and take a report. But there was nothing really that could be done.”
Laura said there are small children and beloved pets in the neighborhood, which is being “terrorized” by these dogs. And the city isn’t helping.
“To add to this appalling situation, animal control has been called back three times since the dogs killed this 15-year-old cat that was sitting on its own porch,” Laura wrote. “They pulled the cat apart in front of screaming crying people and children, but animal control has said they cannot patrol or look for the dogs because the ‘City does not want to pay for the gas.’
“They said we have to get an address for the dogs, then file a new complaint. I guess we are lucky the 2-year-old child was not sitting on the porch with the cat at the time of the attack. The animal control officers had the audacity to ask if the cat had its shots. This is reprehensible and inexcusable.
“What are people supposed to do when 911 won’t help?”
Drale Short, head of Animal Control for the city, said she was familiar with the case, and that her people are still on it. When her department went out to the scene, the dogs were gone and no one knew where they came from or where they went. She said her officers did patrol the neighborhood looking for the dogs but couldn’t find them. And they continue to go through the area looking for the dogs.
If they can locate the dogs and their owners and determine absolutely that they’re the perps, the family who lost the cat can take them to court to seek damages.
But what about on the front end? Or what if, as Laura said, it was a child being attacked instead of a cat? Do property owners have the legal right to “stand their ground” against animals that are threatening them or their pets on their own property?
City Attorney Clifton Fay said he wasn’t sure whether the “stand your ground” statute applies to animals.
“But you still have the right to protect yourself, your family and your property under the Georgia Constitution,” Fay said.
Georgia law is very strict about animal abuse, but the Georgia code that deals with abusing animals ends with section 16-12-4-f, which states:
“Nothing in this Code section shall be construed as prohibiting a person from defending his or her person or property, or the person or property of another, from injury or damage being caused by an animal or injuring or killing an animal reasonably believed to constitute a threat for injury or damage to any property, livestock, or poultry.”
Now, before you get your bushy beards in a knot, I am not advocating shooting anyone’s dog. I’m only clarifying a property owner’s legal options in dealing with a potentially dangerous, or even deadly, situation on his or her property.
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