We were horrified to read about Alice, a 6-year old female Pit Bull from Toombs County, Georgia. She came to the attention of rescuers in January after they found her living in a small, disgusting box, completely disregarded by a man who told authorities that he was taking care of the dog for his son-in-law who rarely visited (we’re afraid to find out what his definition of “rarely” means). The man indicated that Alice was kept in the box because she was one of those “mean kind of dogs,” referring to the dog’s breed as Pit bull.
First, let’s look at Alice’s living conditions for the PAST 6 YEARS:
• Lived in a 5’x 8’ box since she was a PUPPY!
• The box was constructed of rotted wooden boards, tin and chicken wire, constructed in way that Alice could only see sunlight through the cracks of the structure
• The floor of the structure was never cleaned or washed, so Alice stepped, slept and lived on years of caked urine and feces
• The water that was provided was disgustingly unsanitary
• Her diet consisted solely of white bread, honey buns and occasional scraps that were thrown into the box via the slats in the wood
Rescuers contacted the man’s son-in-law to inquire as to whether they could purchase Alice to get her out of these filthy conditions but their offer was refused. We can’t figure out why someone who never visited and self-evidently didn’t care about the animal would not want to receive money for it.
The rescuers countered that they would push for animal cruelty charges and contacted the sheriff of Toombs County to visit the premises; that man told the rescuers that he was sickened by what he saw and would indeed file charges. However, Chief Magistrate John Matheson interceded by stating that he would “throw out” any charges of animal cruelty.
Really Judge Matheson? As a judge, is it your responsibility to make a decision or reach a conclusion AFTER examining the factual evidence and, here is the important part, to form an opinion AFTER evaluating the facts and applying the law. Judges are also supposed to be independent, impartial arbiters who do not impose their own prejudices or preconceptions into a case but rather apply the law as it applies to the facts at hand.
As a bit of a refresher, we’ve listed below the rules and regulations for the state of Georgia pertinent to this case, also known as the “Georgia Animal Protection Act.
§ 4-11-2. Definitions
(4) “Humane care” of animals means, but is not limited to, the provision of adequate heat, ventilation, sanitary shelter, and wholesome and adequate food and water, consistent with the normal requirements and feeding habits of the animals size, species, and breed.
Ga. Comp. Rules & Regulations r. 40-11-2-.01 (2011)
(1) “Adequate food and water” means food and water, which is sufficient in amount and appropriate for the particular type of animal to prevent starvation, dehydration, or a significant risk to the animal’s health from a lack of food or water.
(a) Adequate food means palatable, non-contaminated, and nutritionally adequate food that is fed according to the species requirements or is fed as directed by a veterinarian. Adequate food does not include garbage.
(b) Adequate water means clean, fresh, potable water offered to pets at suitable intervals according to the species requirements, or as dictated by naturally occurring states of hibernation normal for the species, or as directed by a veterinarian.
(2) “Adequate temperature control” means indoor housing facilities for pets are sufficiently heated and/or cooled when necessary to protect the animals from excessive heat or from chilling, freezing or from any physical damage. Except for equines, the ambient temperatures should not be allowed to fall below 450F or rise above 850F, for animals that are not acclimated.
(3) “Adequate ventilation” means indoor housing facilities for pets are adequately ventilated to provide for the health of the animals at all times. Such facilities must be provided with fresh air either by means of windows, doors, vents, fans, or air conditioning and should be ventilated so as to minimize drafts, odors, and moisture condensation.
(14) “Humane care” of animals means, but is not limited to, the provision of adequate heat, ventilation, sanitary shelter, and wholesome and adequate food and water, consistent with the normal requirements and feeding habits of the animal’s size, species, and breed. Inhumane care includes any act, omission, or neglect, which causes unjustifiable physical pain, suffering, or death to any living animal.
(19) “Maintain” means to keep or keep up, or to keep in a certain condition.
(27) “Primary enclosure” means any structure or device used to restrict an animal or animals to a limited amount of space, such as a building, room, pen, run, cage, aquarium, hutch, stall, paddock, pasture, or animal transfer vehicle.
(31) “Sanitation” means the maintenance of conditions conducive to health and involves bedding changes (as appropriate), cleaning, and disinfection. Cleaning removes excessive amounts of dirt and debris, and disinfection reduces or eliminates unacceptable concentration of microorganisms. To sanitize, therefore, means to make physically clean, and, to the maximum degree practical, remove and destroy agents injurious to health.
§ 4-11-16. (2011) Penalties
(a) Except as otherwise provided in Code Section 16-12-4 or 16-12-37, any person violating any of the provisions of this article shall be GUILTY OF A MISDEMEANOR and shall be punished as provided in Code Section 17-10-3; provided, however, that if such offense is committed by a corporation, such corporation shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000.00 for each such violation, community service of not less than 200 hours nor more than 500 hours, or both.
(b) Each violation of this article shall constitute a separate offense.
If you’re similarly outraged by Judge Mathison’s callous indifference to Alice’s plight, please join us by signing this petition urging him to reconsider his opinion and bring an end to the horrendous circumstances Alice must endure. Southern Comfort Animal Rescue (SCAR = A scar means the pain is over and the healing can begin) has spearheaded this petition and is pushing for not only charges of animal cruelty but for Alice’s removal from the owner’s/son-in-law/daughter/etc care immediately. Please take a moment to sign the petition here and write a letter or call Judge Matheson and Sheriff Knight of Toombs County. Let Toombs County know that this horrendous behavior will not be tolerated.
Chief Magistrate John “Chip” Matheson
147 Jerry Avenue
Lyons, GA, 30436
Work Phone: 912 -526- 8984
Sheriff Alvie Lee Kight, Jr.