The 2022 Georgia General Assembly concluded on April 4 with mixed results for animals, and exposed the continuing obstacles that animal protection legislation faces in Georgia. Much appreciation to Georgia Pet Coalition for funding a professional lobbyist at the Capitol, to our Subject Matter Experts, and to members of the Georgia Alliance for Companion Animal Protection for endorsements and support.
Summary of Animal Related Bills, 2022 Georgia General Assembly
Legislative Activity that benefits animals:
2 Positive Resolutions were adopted. A resolution is generally a statement of policy, belief, or appreciation. Usually does not enact statute.
SR402 Senate adopted Spay Neuter Awareness/World Spay Day Resolution
HR822 House adopted Georgia’s Opposition to Shark Fin Trade.
Bills that harm animals that were defeated:
SB303, which began as a bill to address Puppy Mills in GA was stripped of original content, and replaced with a substitute that was a fake “Puppy Lemon Law” bill, very similar to Pet Retailer’s HB144 in 2017 that was their vehicle for preemption legislation. The AKC testified in favor of the substitute, but fortunately the bill was assigned to a study committee (*803) that could not put forth a bill in 2022.
*SR 803: This resolution was introduced very late in session for the purpose of creating a study committee on the “prevention of unhealthy puppies and protection ethical retail sales.” The title is hypocritical because puppies sold in pet stores are primarily sourced from puppy mills. Further, the breeder Code of Ethics for the majority of national breed clubs forbid or discourage their members from selling litters to pet stores. The resolution appears to be another attempt by the pet store industry to pass a fake puppy protection law that would weaken existing consumer protections. Fortunately, SR 803 did not pass out of committee.
None of the Horse Racing bills passed.
Bills that benefit animals that did not pass:
SB512 This bill would amend the dogfighting statute by adding the prohibition of cockfighting. The bill would also add penalties for bringing a minor to an animal fight. It’s important to note that this bill is about criminal activity and child endangerment as well as animal cruelty. SB 512 overwhelmingly passed the Senate (49-2), yet did not receive a hearing and vote in the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. Georgia is the ONLY state without a cockfighting law. Passage would have given law enforcement the tools that they need to stop this blood sport in our state. The House of Representatives committee did not put it on their agenda for a vote.
HB1450 This lifesaving bill would improve the minimum standards of care and safe restraint for dogs who live outdoors, thereby providing a safety net to help prevent irrevocable physical harm. HB 1450 had a groundswell of support from both advocates and lawmakers-15 sponsors!- but did not move forward because the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee did not put it on the their agenda for a vote.
HB609 This bill would prohibit the sale of dogs, cats and domestic pet rabbits in poorly regulated outdoor locations such as parking lots and roadsides. Passage of the measure would be an important step towards limiting opportunities for illegal pet sales by Georgia’s many unlicensed and reckless “backyard” breeders. The bill did not receive a hearing in the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee and therefore did not move forward. The Georgia Veterinary Medical Association endorsed HB 609.
SB 515: This bill would authorize first responders to provide emergency treatment and ambulance transport of K-9 police dogs to vet clinics and provides immunity from civil liability for doing so in good faith. Police dogs risk their lives every day and deserve prompt medical attention when injured. SB 515 had 21 sponsors but did not receive a vote in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
Bills that harm animals that passed:
SB1147, Hunting and Trapping of Racoons year-round. The substitute was modified so that it only applies to private lands.
Some say that this was already legal with a permit on private property, and the passage of 1147 removed the need for a permit.