Great job Cobb County GA animal welfare advocates! You speak and law makers and prosecutors listen. Cobb County GA District Attorney Vic Reynolds is cracking down on animal abuse. Soon after taking office last year he starts Georgia's first ever animal abuse unit. He issues a clear warning to pet owners to treat their pets humanely or go to jail and lose their pets for good.
Reynold's, also named one of the nation’s top 10 animal defenders by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, is also the keynote speaker this May in Atlanta GA at the Animal Cruelty Conference held by The Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, a national group. He advises his prosecuting team to use forfeiture statues to make sure abused animals are permanently removed from people who hurt them. The unit has been successful in handing down indictments of felony animal cruelty cases, reports Bill Hendricks with the AJC, Atlanta's number one news source.
"Most people erroneously think because they own their animals, they can treat them as they please, including cruelly," says Sherwin Figueroa, Vice President of the State Bar of Georgia's Animal Law Section. She points out that research indicates that people who neglect or are cruel to animals are more likely to abuse children.
The Georgia Legislature recently strengthened the state’s animal cruelty laws. "We are getting serious about cruelty to animals,” says Assistant District Attorney Theresa Schiefer. "We are on the forefront, having a unit like we do. We have seen an uptick in cases of malnourishment.”
Figueroa, vice president of the State Bar of Georgia’s Animal Law Section, and Schiefer hope to make the process of cracking down on animal abusers easier. Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, applauds Reynolds for “creating the first-ever Cobb County Animal Abuse Unit, which seeks justice for abused animals and sends a clear message that this behavior will not be tolerated.”
The lesson, said Cobb police Lt. Cheryl Shepard, is that “if you are going to live in Cobb County, you are going to treat your animals in a manner the law dictates and if not, we’re going to take a tough stance.”
To report abuse, people should call their local animal control (in Cobb, the number is 770-499-4136), unless it’s an emergency, in which case, dial 911.
This article originally published in the AJC written by Bill Hendricks dated April 15 2014.
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