2021 Georgia Code
Title 16 - Crimes and Offenses
Chapter 12 - Offenses Against Public Health and Morals
Article 2 - Gambling and Related Offenses
Part 1 - Gambling
§ 16-12-37. Dogfighting
- As used in this Code section, the term "dog" means any domestic canine.
- Any person who:
- Owns, possesses, trains, transports, or sells any dog with the intent that such dog shall be engaged in fighting with another dog;
- For amusement or gain, causes any dog to fight with another dog or for amusement or gain, causes any dogs to injure each other;
- Wagers money or anything of value on the result of such dogfighting;
- Knowingly permits any act in violation of paragraph (1) or (2) of this subsection on any premises under the ownership or control of such person or knowingly aids or abets any such act; or
- Knowingly promotes or advertises an exhibition of fighting with another dog
shall be guilty of a felony and, upon the first conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment of not less than one nor more than five years, a fine of not less than $5,000.00, or both such fine and imprisonment. On a second or subsequent conviction, such person shall be punished by imprisonment of not less than one nor more than ten years, a fine of not less than $15,000.00, or both such fine and imprisonment. Each act or omission in violation of this subsection shall constitute a separate offense.
- Any person who is knowingly present only as a spectator at any place for the fighting of dogs shall, upon a first conviction thereof, be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. On a second conviction, such person shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment of not less than one nor more than five years, a fine of not less than $5,000.00, or both such fine and imprisonment. On a third or subsequent conviction, such person shall be punished by imprisonment of not less than one nor more than ten years, a fine of not less than $15,000.00, or both such fine and imprisonment. Each act in violation of this subsection shall constitute a separate offense.
- Any dog subject to fighting may be impounded pursuant to the provisions of Code Sections 4-11-9.2 through 4-11-9.6.
- This Code section shall not prohibit, impede, or otherwise interfere with animal husbandry, training techniques, competition, events, shows, or practices not otherwise specifically prohibited by law and shall not apply to the following activities:
- Owning, using, breeding, training, or equipping any animal to pursue, take, hunt, or recover wildlife or any animal lawfully hunted under Title 27 or participating in hunting or fishing in accordance with the provisions of Title 27 and rules and regulations promulgated pursuant thereto as such rules and regulations existed on the date specified in Code Section 27-1-39;
- Owning, using, breeding, training, or equipping dogs to work livestock for agricultural purposes in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Commissioner of Agriculture as such rules and regulations existed on January 1, 2008;
- Owning, using, breeding, training, or equipping dogs for law enforcement purposes; or
- Owning, using, breeding, training, or equipping any animal to control damage from nuisance or pest species in and around structures or agricultural operations.
(Code 1933, § 26-2714, enacted by Ga. L. 1982, p. 2214, § 1; Code 1981, §16-12-36, enacted by Ga. L. 1982, p. 2214, § 2; Code 1981, §16-12-37, as redesignated by Ga. L. 1983, p. 3, § 13; Ga. L. 2008, p. 114, § 1-1/HB 301.)Law reviews.
- For survey article on criminal law and procedure, see 34 Mercer L. Rev. 89 (1982). For comment, "The Abuse of Animals as a Method of Domestic Violence: The Need for Criminalization," see 63 Emory L.J. 1163 (2014).
- O.C.G.A. § 16-12-37, which outlaws knowing and active participation in a dogfight, infringes on no constitutionally protected conduct and is constitutionally valid. Moody v. State, 253 Ga. 456, 320 S.E.2d 545 (1984).
O.C.G.A. § 16-12-37, which does not make unlawful the mere allowing of a dogfight to occur, but which prohibits one from causing or allowing a dog to fight another dog for a particular purpose (i.e., sport or gambling), the term "allow" encompassing knowledge and consent, is sufficiently definite to put those of common intelligence on notice that knowing participation in a dogfighting event is prohibited. Hargrove v. State, 253 Ga. 450, 321 S.E.2d 104 (1984).
While O.C.G.A. § 16-12-4 makes it a misdemeanor for anyone to subject any animal to cruel treatment, O.C.G.A. § 16-12-37 does not violate equal protection, because the legislature acted within its discretion in mandating that those who participate in a dogfight organization for sport or gaming purposes should be dealt with more harshly. Hargrove v. State, 253 Ga. 450, 321 S.E.2d 104 (1984).
Van used to transport fighting dogs may be condemned under § 16-12-32. - Van used to transport two fighting dogs to the scene of dogfights and which was thus used to facilitate a dogfight in violation of O.C.G.A. § 16-12-37, may be condemned as provided in O.C.G.A. § 16-12-32. Macon Auto Cleaners v. State, 175 Ga. App. 13, 332 S.E.2d 324 (1985).Evidence sufficient for conviction.
- Evidence that defendant was four hundred miles from defendant's home shortly after dawn in a remote area of the state where dogfighting and gambling were taking place, that defendant was apprehended directly next to a pit where dogfighting was underway, and that defendant was arrested with $899 on defendant's person was sufficient for a rational trier of fact to conclude that defendant was guilty of allowing dogfighting to take place and gambling. Barton v. State, 253 Ga. 478, 322 S.E.2d 54 (1984).Evidence insufficient for conviction.
- When the state offered no evidence linking defendants to the area where dogfighting and gambling were taking place, but only showed that the defendants were "brought back" from an undetermined place by an unidentified officer and searched next to the dog pit, evidence was insufficient to support convictions for dogfighting and gambling. Barton v. State, 253 Ga. 478, 322 S.E.2d 54 (1984).Penalty provision constitutional.
- A $5,000.00 fine and an optional one year in prison does not amount to cruel and unusual punishment for those convicted of dogfighting in this state. Hargrove v. State, 253 Ga. 450, 321 S.E.2d 104 (1984).
Cited in Bramblett v. Habersham County, 346 Ga. App. 511, 816 S.E.2d 446 (2018).
OPINIONS OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Fingerprinting required for violators.
- Offenses arising under O.C.G.A. § 16-12-37(c) are designated as offenses for which those charged are to be fingerprinted. 2009 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 2009-1.
- Validity, construction, and application of criminal statutes and ordinances to prosecution for dogfighting, 68 A.L.R.6th 115.