ALERT FROM USARK: PET BREEDING BILL IN GEORGIA SPELLS BAD NEWS FOR ANIMAL OWNERS
An alert from our friends at the US Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK):
Senate Bill 338 amends Georgia's current "pet dealer" law found at Article 1 of Chapter 11 of Title 4 of the Official Code of Georgia. The current law covers "dogs, cats, birds, fish, reptiles, or other animals customarily obtained as pets." Fish would be excluded but the number of animals sold requiring someone to have a pet dealer license is decreased drastically (by 33%).
What it does:
1. Reduces the number of animals sold annually to qualify someone as a pet dealer from 30 to only 20.
2. Maximum annual license fees have been raised from $400 to $800.
3. New "fee tiers" will be established.
4. Anyone applying for a license must now submit a criminal background check. This may not seem like a big deal but it is an added cost and is also a case of being guilty until proven innocent.
5. Licensees must now have a surety of at least $7,500 and may be required to hold a surety of up to $500,000. This means a licensee must hold a bond to cover the costs of any fines or penalties and the determined amount must be held in an account made payable to the Commissioner.
6. If for some reason the surety fails to hold the required amount, the license can be revoked without notice.
Additionally, Georgia law allows that:
The Commissioner, or his designated agents, are authorized to enter upon any public or private property at any time for the purpose of inspecting the business premises of any pet dealer or any animal shelter, kennel, or stable and the dogs, cats, equines, or other animals housed at such facility to determine if such facility is licensed and for the purpose of enforcing this article and the rules and regulations adopted by the Commissioner pursuant to this article.
Even "any sheriff, deputy sheriff, or other peace officer shall have the authority to enforce" this law.
So if you are a hobbyist selling more than 20 animals a year, which may be just one clutch or litter for many turtles, tortoises, snakes, lizards, and amphibians, then you must open your home to unannounced inspections by the Department of Agriculture.
The current law seems restrictive enough already, but this amendment would require anyone selling 21 or more animals (except fish) to become licensed by the State. The minimum license fee is $50, plus you will need a bond of at least $7,500 which can be checked at any time by the Commissioner (Commissioner of Agriculture of the State of Georgia). If your bond is insufficient at any time, you lose your license without notice.
Someone breeding one snake (of many species) would be a pet dealer. One veiled chameleon. One of any species which could produce more than 20 babies or eggs. That means an annual license of no less than $50 annually, plus all of the other restrictions.
Please note that in the text of the bill: text that is underlined is new language (edits to current law), text with strikethrough will be removed, and regular text is the current law.
The bill has six sponsors: Senators Kirkpatrick, Black, Walker, Cowsert, Anderson, and Sims.
SB338 has been assigned to the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee.
If you have concerns, here is what USARK recommends:
1. Call officials;
2. Email officials;
3. Fax letters;
4. Make meetings with your elected officials;
5. Attend hearings and voice opposition, if possible;
Email list: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
You can find full contact details for bill sponsors by clicking their names at www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20192020/SB/338.
You can find full contact details for Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee members by clicking their names HERE.