§ 34-196. Definitions.  

Latest version.
  • The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this article, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:

    Abandonment means the intentional or complete forsaking of any animal by its owner, without making reasonable arrangements for the adequate care and custody of the animal to be assumed by another person or the failure to return and resume responsibility of an animal at the designated time as arranged with the custodian. Abandonment also means releasing or leaving an animal on any property, public or private, with the intention of deserting the animal. An animal shall also be considered abandoned when it has been unattended and without adequate food, water, ventilation or shelter, for a period in excess of 36 hours, regardless of where such animal may be found or kept.

    Adequate food means sufficient quantity of noncontaminated and nutritionally healthy sustenance that is appropriate to the species, breed, size, age, and health of the animal, or at the direction of a licensed veterinarian, which is sufficient to prevent starvation, malnutrition, or risk to the animal's health. Garbage, spoiled, rancid, or contaminated food is not adequate food.

    Adequate shelter means a protective covering for an animal that is of adequate size and provides adequate protection to maintain the animal in a state of good health, and that prevents pain, suffering, or significant risk to the animal's health. Adequate shelter shall consist of a completely enclosed structure with four sides with a door opening, a constructed floor, and a roof. It should also be clean, dry, and compatible with current weather conditions, in addition to age, size, species, and condition of the animal. The structure should be of sufficient size to allow the animal to stand, turn around, lie down, and go in and out of the structure comfortably. To be adequate, some type of bedding that is quick drying, such as hay or pine straw, must be provided to maintain comfortable temperatures within the structure during times when the ambient, outside temperature is below freezing. In addition, the structure shall include a heavy plastic or rubber flap to cover the door and/or window openings during the months of November through March. From April through October, the structure shall either be shaded or moved out of direct sunlight. If the shelter is made of wood, it shall be raised at least two inches off the ground to prevent seepage or rotting. Examples of inadequate shelter include, but are not limited to, leantos, metal or plastic drums, boxes, abandoned vehicles, porches, decks, or material that does not provide sufficient protection from the elements.

    Adequate water means clear, potable water in adequate supply. Examples of inadequate water include, but are not limited to: snow, ice, and contaminated water.

    Animal care facility means any animal control center or animal shelter, maintained by or under contract with any state, county or municipality, whose mission and practice is the rescue and placement of animals in permanent homes or rescue organizations.

    Animal control officer means an individual employed by the county or its designee to perform and execute the provisions of this article, and whose office shall have the power to issue citations in violation of this article, and as deputized by the Fulton County Sheriff.

    Animal control shelter means the facilities operated by the county or its designee for the confining of dogs, cats, or other animals impounded under the provisions of this article.

    Animal rescue organization means any not for profit organization which has tax exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code, whose mission and practice is, in whole or in part, the rescue and placement of animals in permanent homes.

    Cat means cat, or any domesticated feline, of either sex, whether vaccinated against rabies or not.

    Classified animal means any animal that has been classified as either a dangerous or vicious dog or animal pursuant to this article or comparably classified by the State of Georgia, or by any court, hearing officer, or authorized government agency of any other state, county or municipality.

    Classified animal pen means a padlocked pen, as that term is defined in this article, made entirely of industrial gauge fencing with a door or gate equipped with a working lock. The classified animal pen must contain adequate shelter, as that term is defined in this chapter, but must also contain a minimum 100-square foot area outside the adequate shelter.

    Commercial guard/security dog means any dog that is purchased, leased, or rented and that is trained to guard, protect, patrol, or defend any commercial property, public or private, upon and within which it is located. A dog shall not be considered a guard or security dog if it has been classified as a dangerous or vicious dog.

    Cruelty means causing death or unjustifiable pain or suffering to any animal by an act, omission, or neglect. Cruelty also includes transporting an unrestrained animal in an open-air vehicle or in the trunk of any vehicle, or leaving an animal unattended in a closed vehicle without proper ventilation or temperature control where the animal may suffer from physical harm from dangerous temperatures. Cruelty also means allowing or causing any animal to train for or engage in an animal fight operated for sport, entertainment or gaming purposes. Routine medical procedures by a licensed veterinarian shall not be regarded as cruelty.

    Current vaccination/license tag means a vaccination/license tag bearing a number which shows the license is valid for a one- or three-year period. The licensing period runs concurrently with the vaccination period.

    Custodian means any person which has been entrusted with the responsibility and care of a dog, cat, or other animal by its owner.

    Dangerous dog means any dog that:


    Causes a substantial puncture of a person's skin by teeth without causing serious injury; provided, however, that a nip, scratch, or abrasion caused by a dog shall not be sufficient to classify a dog as dangerous under this subparagraph;


    Aggressively attacks in a manner that causes a person to reasonably believe that the dog posed an imminent threat of serious injury to such person or another person although no such injury occurs; provided, however, that the acts of barking, growling, or showing of teeth by a dog shall not be sufficient to classify a dog as dangerous under this subparagraph; or


    While off the owner's property, kills or seriously injures a pet animal.


    No dog shall be classified as a dangerous dog or vicious dog for actions that occur while the dog is being used by a law enforcement or military officer to carry out the law enforcement or military officer's official duties. No dog shall be classified as a dangerous dog or a vicious dog if the person injured by such dog was a person who, at the time, was tormenting or abusing the dog or who in the past has been observed or reported to have tormented or abused the dog, was committing a willful trespass, or was committing or attempting to commit a crime.

    Dog means dog, or any domesticated canine, of either sex, whether vaccinated against rabies or not.

    Domestic animal/fowl means any animal/fowl domesticated by humans so as to live and breed in a tame condition for the advantage of humans. Pen raised skunks are categorized as those skunks acceptable by the State of Georgia and may be kept in Georgia as pets.

    Exotic animal means any animal of any kind which is not indigenous to the State of Georgia, but not included in the definition of a domestic animal, but shall include any hybrid animal which is part exotic animal.

    Harborer means any person which has provided sustenance and/or shelter to a dog, cat, or other animal for a period of more than seven days.

    Livestock means all animals of the equine, bovine, or swine class, including goats, sheep, mules, horses, hogs, cattle, and other grazing animals.

    Necessary sustenance means the provision of adequate food, water and shelter.

    Neglect means endangering an animal's health by failing to provide or arrange to provide the animal with adequate food and water if the animal is dependent upon a person for the provision of food or drink, or the act of restraining an animal in a manner that endangers the animal's life or health. Other acts considered to be neglect include, but are not limited to:


    Failing to provide reasonable care or seek veterinary care for an injury or illness that seriously endangers the life or health of an animal; or


    Leaving an animal outside and exposed to excessive heat or cold without providing the animal with adequate shelter or protection from the heat or cold, or exposing an animal to unsanitary conditions.

    Nuisance means whatever is dangerous or detrimental to human life or health and whatever renders or tends to render the soil, air, water, or food impure or unwholesome, or unreasonably offends or impairs the senses of smell, sight, and hearing.

    Owner means any natural person or any legal entity, including, but not limited to, a corporation, partnership, firm, or trust owning, possessing, harboring, keeping, or having custody or control of an animal. In the case of an animal owned by a minor, the term "owner" includes the parents or person in loco parentis with custody of the minor.

    Person means person, firm, corporation, municipality, society, or association.

    Pet shop means a retail establishment where dogs and cats are sold, exchanged, bartered or offered for sale as pet animals to the general public at retail. Such definition shall not include an animal care facility, animal rescue organization, private breeder, or retail establishment which only sells non-feline and non-canine animals.

    Private breeder means any person who breeds animals that they own for the purpose of hunting, tracking, and exhibiting in dog or cat shows, performance events or field and obedience trials. Private breeders shall not be considered pet shops if they sell less than 25 animals per year.

    Public nuisance animal means an animal that:


    Is repeatedly found at large, except cats; or


    Damages the property of anyone other than the owner; or


    Because of temperament, conditioning, or training, has a propensity, tendency, or disposition to attack, bite, or injure humans or other animals without provocation; or


    On one or more occasion, has caused physical injury to humans or other animals without provocation, whether on public or private property; or


    Chases or acts so as to menace pedestrians or other persons using public ways.

    Qualified adoption facilitator, rescue group and animal shelter means an organization offering animals for adoption so long as the organization is licensed as a shelter by the State of Georgia, or, if not incorporated in Georgia, is a non-profit organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code; and has the express mission/business function of facilitating the sterilization and adoption of homeless and unwanted animals. A copy of the state license or the Internal Revenue Service letter of non-profit designation shall be provided to the county upon request.

    Records means records of any state, county, or municipal law enforcement agency; records of any county board of health; records of any federal, state, or local court; or records of an animal control officer.

    Serious injury means any physical injury that creates a substantial risk of death; results in death, broken or dislocated bones, lacerations requiring multiple sutures, significant puncture wounds, or disfiguring avulsions; requires plastic surgery or admissions to a hospital; or results in protracted impairment of health, including transmission of an infection or contagious disease, or impairment of the function of any bodily organ.

    Tether means any chain, rope, leash, tie out, or wire designed to restrain an animal which is attached to an animal or to an animal's collar or halter and is also attached to a stationary object.

    Unsanitary conditions means an animal living space, shelter, or exercise area contaminated by health hazards, irritants, pollutants, items, excessive animal excrement, or conditions that endanger or pose a risk to an animal's health.

    Vaccinate means immunization against rabies if a vaccination certificate documents that the animal received a primary rabies vaccine, approved by the United States Department of Agriculture, from a licensed veterinarian at least 28 days previously and that booster vaccinations have been administered on an annual or triennial schedule, in accordance with the Georgia Rabies Manual or as described on the individual vaccine label.

    Vaccination certificate means a certificate issued at the time of vaccination of the dog, cat, or other animal and bearing thereon the signature of the vaccinator; the name, color, breed, age, and sex of the dog, cat, or other animal; the name and address of the owner; the date of expiration of the vaccination; and the spay or neuter status, if known.

    Vaccination/license tag means a metal tag bearing a number which is issued to the animal owner after showing proof of vaccination for the animal and paying, when required, the license fee. This tag is issued by Fulton County or its designee.

    Veterinarian means any person who holds a license to practice the profession of veterinary medicine in the State of Georgia; the veterinary license number shall be the same as that recorded by the Georgia Board of Veterinary Examiners.

    Vicious dog means any dog that:


    Inflicts serious injury on a person or causes serious injury to a person resulting from reasonable attempts to escape from the dog's attack; or


    Has been previously classified as a dangerous dog and has attacked or bitten a human or pet animal subsequent to the dangerous dog classification.

    Wildlife/fowl means any animal/fowl of any kind which is indigenous to the State of Georgia, but not included in the definition of a domestic animal/fowl, and shall include any hybrid animal/fowl which is part wild animal/fowl.

(91-RC-441, § A, 8-21-91; 09-0243, 3-4-09; 16-0469, Exh. 1, 6-1-16; 16-0728, Exh. A, 9-7-16; 18-0896, 1-9-19)

Cross reference

Definitions generally, § 1-2.