NGO: Investigations Rarely Launched into Animal Mistreatment in Georgia

Taking into consideration the number of cases on animal mistreatment registered by countries with high animal welfare standards, a large number of crimes related to animal abuse still do not even reach law enforcement agencies in Georgia, and those that do reach them are rarely investigated - says the non-governmental organization ‘Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information’ (IDFI) which studied the legislation on animal protection in Georgia and the state of its implementation.

The NGO requested public information from relevant state institutions. In addition, it researched international regulations on the subject and explored the practice of countries which excel in high animal welfare standards.

The organization reported that there is a low number of court cases related to cruelty against animals in Georgia and said that the study had revealed that to-date, there has been no comprehensive legal base regulating issues of animal well-being in the country.

“Adopting a Law on the Welfare of Domestic Animals will be a significant step towards increasing the living standards of said animals in Georgia,” the organization says.

It also highlights that Georgia is a member of the International Organization for Animal Protection (OIPA); however, the country is not a signatory of the European Convention for the Protection of Domestic Animals.

The NGO noted that the new article introduced in the Code of Administrative Offences, which holds parents responsible for acts of violence against animals committed by minors, needs further justification.

“In addition to parents, the actions of minors are significantly affected by preschool and educational institutions, as well as society as a whole. We find that, in practice, it will be impossible to prove that the misconduct of a minor was causally linked with improper parenting,” the findings read.

The IDFI says fighting animal torture and ill-treatment is a complex issue and the existence of comprehensive legislation and a responsible entity specialized in identifying and reacting to cases of animal mistreatment, is necessary.

“It is crucial for Georgia to announce its political will to establish high standards of animal protection on the international arena and to sign the European Convention for the Protection of Domestic Animals. It is also essential to conduct a comprehensive study into the problem. The latter is impossible without full statistical data. It is important to generate and proactively publish detailed statistical data on animal ill-treatment,” the report claims.

However, the organization says that recent amendments made to the legislation, introducing stricter sanctions for specific crimes against animals, should be assessed positively.

In late spring, the Georgian Parliament started discussions on a new Draft Law on Animal Welfare which envisages mandatory registration of pets. The annual control of pets will also be compulsory. The bill says the registration of domestic animals will be free of charge and will see them registered on a special database.

The draft also reads that the legislative record aims to establish a quality living environment for pets and ensure their well-being and protection. It reads that use of domestic animals for conducting scientific and laboratory experiments and carrying out surgery without the purpose of veterinary treatment shall be punishable by fine or by imprisonment for up to one year. Further, the unlawful killing of a domestic animal shall be punishable by fine or by imprisonment from one to two years. Animal training and distribution of video or photography of animal fights shall be punishable by fine or by imprisonment up to one year and betting money on pet fights or allowing usage of personal facilities or buildings for such fights shall be punishable by fine or imprisonment for up to two years. Violation of the rules of animal living conditions will result in a fine to the amount of one fifth of the violator’s monthly income. If the violator is an official, they have to pay half of their salary to create safe conditions for the pet(s).

The Parliament of Georgia has already adopted a law on animal cruelty, initiated by Tbilisi City Hall, which tightens sanctions for mistreatment of animals. The torture or killing of domestic animals will now see punishment by imprisonment.

By Thea Morrison

Image source: Condor Ferries

22 August 2019 16:52