Updated: May 5
Three Women In Law And Government And With The Support Of The Lt. Govenor, Helped To Change An Important Animal Law In Georgia.
Pictured above: Lt. Governor Burt Jones, Senator Kay Kirkpatrick, Senior Assistant District Attorney Kimberly Schwartz and Attorney and Founder of Animal Law Source and The Animal Protection Society, Claudine Wilkins.
On March 27th, the GA House of Representatives unanimously passed SB 155, a bill that enhances penalties for interfering or harming a Police K9 dog, cadaver animal, public safety animal or search & rescue animal. This law is named after “Figo”, a brave K9 officer that was killed last October by a perpetrator the dog was chasing. More on Figo’s story below: https://www.fox5atlanta.com/news/georgia-state-patrol-k-9-killed-in-line-of-duty-laid-to-rest
SB155 began when a 36-year veteran prosecutor from Columbus Georgia, Assistant District attorney Kim Schwartz, noticed there were problems with the penalty section. She reached out to animal law expert Claudine Wilkins, founder of The Animal Protection Society and Animal Law Source. Together they found other issues with the law dubbed Tanya’s Law which passed in 2015. Named after another K9 officer that lost her life in the line of duty, her bravery was acknowledge with the passage of Tanya’s Law which provided stiffer penalties for those who knowingly harm a law enforcement animal.
11 Alive's coverage of the signing of Figo's Law
Kimberly Schwartz drafted the bulk of bill and Claudine Wilkins assisted. They reached out to Georgia Senator Kay Kirkpatrick who eagerly sponsored the bill along with co-sponsors, Senators Randy Robertson, John Albers, Brains Strickland, Shawn Still and Valencia Seay.
House Representative Dale Washburn carried it through the Georgia House ending with a UNANIMOUS vote Monday March 27, 2023, two days before Sine Die (the conclusion of this year’s legislative session). Special thanks to Lt. Governor Burt Jones for his support.
On Wednesday, April 26, 2023, Governor Brian Kemp will sign SB155 into Figo's Law. A Toolkit is being created that will summarize what Figo’s provides and how it should be enforced. Stay tuned for the Toolkit to be published on www.theAnimalProtectionSociety.org website after the law passes. And, look for K9 and Public Service Animals training in the near future.
Please watch Paw Cast below to learn how these important changes were made and what this law means for Police K9 dogs, cadaver animals, public safety animals or search & rescue animals.