Extending Protective Orders to Pets

Georgia is poised to make progress in the area of family law and animal rights.  GA HB 429 adds pets to those protected by Georgia’s family violence act.  OCGA 19-13-4 allows the court to grant protective orders to bring about cessation of acts of family violence.  HB 429 comes to us courtesy of Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta).

“If you think about it in a domestic violence way, people are so attached to their pets now,” said state Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), who sponsored HB 429. “One way to really hurt the person you’re trying to control is to go after the pet.”

In issuing a protective order, courts can order a person to refrain from domestic violence, authorize a dangerous person to be evicted from a home or force them to provide housing elsewhere for a partner, and set up child and spousal support payments. Cooper’s bill would allow pets to be included.

This language has been added to the OCGA 19-13-4

(12) Order the respondent to refrain from harming any family pet and further direct the care, custody, or control of any family pet. As used in this paragraph, the term ‘family pet’ means an animal kept for companionship and enjoyment or a household animal which is owned or possessed by either party, or a minor child residing in the household of either party, and shall not include livestock, laboratory animals, working animals, or sport animals which are kept for economic purposes.”

The bill allows judges to order an alleged abuser to not harm family pets.  A judge can also assign care and custody of the pet as well.  If Georgia passes HB 429 it will become the twelfth state to have a law that protects pets.  Rep. Cooper deserves a lot of credit for sponsoring this bill.  It’s something that Georgia has been missing and desperately needs.

State residents need to visit http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/FindLegislator.htm to look up their legislator and have them support the bill.  The Senate needs to be the focus of action since the legislation expired last year with no apparent interest in passing it.

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