2020 Georgia Code
Title 4 - Animals
Chapter 3 - Livestock Running at Large or Straying
§ 4-3-3. Permitting Livestock to Run at Large or Stray

Universal Citation: GA Code § 4-3-3 (2020)

No owner shall permit livestock to run at large on or to stray upon the public roads of this state or any property not belonging to the owner of the livestock, except by permission of the owner of such property.

(Ga. L. 1953, Jan.-Feb. Sess., p. 380, § 3; Ga. L. 1953, Nov.-Dec. Sess., p. 395, § 4.)

Cross references.

- Cruelty to animals, § 16-12-4.

Law reviews.

- For survey article on torts, see 34 Mercer L. Rev. 271 (1982).


Inference of owner's negligence from livestock running at large.

- The mere fact that livestock is running at large permits an inference that the owner is negligent in permitting the livestock to stray; but when the owner introduces evidence that he has exercised ordinary care in the maintenance of the stock, that permissible inference disappears. Green v. Heard Milling Co., 119 Ga. App. 116, 166 S.E.2d 408 (1969); Wilkins v. Beverly, 124 Ga. App. 842, 186 S.E.2d 436 (1971).


§ 4-3-3 is not a penal statute. - Appellate court held that O.C.G.A. § 4-3-3 was not a penal statute and it reversed the trial court's judgment convicting defendant and defendant's spouse of violating that statute. Cotton v. State, 263 Ga. App. 843, 589 S.E.2d 610 (2003).

Owner of a pasture who allowed her son to keep his horse in the pasture was not an "owner" of the horse as that term is defined in O.C.G.A. § 4-3-2(2) and, therefore, under no obligation to prevent the horse from escaping. Supchak v. Pruitt, 232 Ga. App. 680, 503 S.E.2d 581 (1998).

Evidence of ownership required.

- Grant of summary judgment to defendant on plaintiff's claim for damages after his car hit a cow was proper because plaintiff failed to show that defendant owned the cow. Taylor v. Thompkins, 242 Ga. App. 789, 531 S.E.2d 360 (2000).

Negligence per se.

- Where an owner through his negligence permits his livestock to stray or run at large upon the public highways of this state, he is not guilty of negligence per se. Porier v. Spivey, 97 Ga. App. 209, 102 S.E.2d 706 (1958) (decided under former Code 1933, § 62-601).

Liability for injury to livestock running at large.

- Livestock running at large on a public road are trespassers, and a motorist is liable only for willful and wanton negligence in injuring the animal. Green v. Heard Milling Co., 119 Ga. App. 116, 166 S.E.2d 408 (1969).

Since the abolition of the open range by adoption of this section, loose livestock going upon the lands of others, including a railroad right-of-way, are trespassers, and the duty owed them by the landowner or the railroad company is not willfully or wantonly to injure them. Tennessee, Ala. & Ga. Ry. v. Andrews, 117 Ga. App. 164, 159 S.E.2d 460 (1968).

Testimony as to defendant's care in maintaining his pasture fence does not demand a verdict in his favor. Green v. Heard Milling Co., 119 Ga. App. 116, 166 S.E.2d 408 (1969).

No evidence of owners' negligence.

- There was no evidence of a violation of O.C.G.A. § 4-3-3, and summary judgment for owners was proper in a driver's claim arising out of an accident in which the driver struck a cow because, inter alia, the evidence showed that the fencing surrounding the pasture where the cows were kept was in good repair and the gates were closed at the time of the driver's accident; evidence was presented that the fencing was sufficient to confine the cattle, that the owners monitored the fences regularly, and that, after leaving the scene of the accident, one of the owners confirmed that all of the gates were closed and that the fences remained in good condition. The driver did not present any admissible evidence to challenge these claims and accordingly there was no evidence of negligence committed by the owners, but only impermissible speculation. West v. West, 299 Ga. App. 643, 683 S.E.2d 153 (2009).

Charging that violation of section is negligence per se.

- Charging jury to the effect that a violation of this section is negligence per se was reversible error. Lovell v. Howard, 182 Ga. App. 891, 357 S.E.2d 600 (1987).

Cited in Law v. Hulsey, 109 Ga. App. 379, 136 S.E.2d 161 (1964); Jackson v. State, 120 Ga. App. 417, 170 S.E.2d 751 (1969); Binford v. Bush, 125 Ga. App. 704, 188 S.E.2d 883 (1972); Caldwell v. Hunnicutt, 159 Ga. App. 102, 282 S.E.2d 665 (1981); Johns v. Marlow, 252 Ga. App. 79, 555 S.E.2d 756 (2001).


Prohibition against free ranging of cattle.

- The result of the prohibition of this section is the prohibiting of the free ranging of cattle. 1960-61 Op. Att'y Gen. p. 3.


Am. Jur. 2d.

- 4 Am. Jur. 2d, Animals, § 34 et seq.

1C Am. Jur. Pleading and Practice Forms, Animals, § 68.


- 3B C.J.S., Animals, §§ 263 et seq., 293, 295, 306, 313.


- Liability of interurban railroad for killing or injuring livestock running at large, 2 A.L.R. 98; 25 A.L.R. 1506.

Liability for trespass or damage by fowls, 14 A.L.R. 745.

Liability of agister to owner for damages from escape of animals, 23 A.L.R. 265.

Presumption and burden of proof in agistment cases, 23 A.L.R. 276.

Liability for injury to trespassing stock from poisonous substances or other conditions on the premises, 33 A.L.R. 448.

Scienter as condition of liability for damage by trespassing animals other than dogs, 33 A.L.R. 1305.

Rights and remedies as to chattels cast upon riparian land, 41 A.L.R. 1015.

What constitutes willful trespass by stock on land not inclosed by legal fence, 158 A.L.R. 375.

Owner's liability, under legislation forbidding domestic animals to run at large on highways, as dependent on negligence, 34 A.L.R.2d 1285.

Liability of person, other than owner of animal or owner or operator of motor vehicle, for damage to motor vehicle or injury to person riding therein resulting from collision with domestic animal at large in street or highway, 21 A.L.R.4th 132.

Liability of owner or operator of vehicle for damage to motor vehicle or injury to person riding therein resulting from collision with domestic animal at large in street or highway, 21 A.L.R.4th 159.

Liability of owner of animal for damage to motor vehicle or injury to person riding therein resulting from collision with domestic animal at large in street or highway, 29 A.L.R.4th 431.

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