Webinar presenter Claudine Wilkins answered a number of your questions after her presentation, Criminal Cases Involving Multi-Animal Impounds. Here are just a few of her responses.
Audience Question: Listed on one of your slides talking about the superior court, what is a disposable action?
Claudine Wilkins: A disposal action in Georgia is under Title 4, and it basically says in a case where an animal was either treated poorly, neglected, or treated cruelly, the agency having custody of the animal can petition the court, the court that’s going to hear the offense and request a disposal of the animal prior to the criminal case so long as the prosecutor gives consent. Basically what that saying is that any animal that was impounded as a result of cruelty and neglect, that agency can petition the court and the prosecutor has to give consent. That consent is not specified. The prosecutor can be either over the phone saying, yeah I don’t need the animal for my purposes you can go ahead and dispose of the animal, so there’s my consent or you may have the prosecutor actually file the petition or you may have the prosecutor provide an affidavit or actually appear in the hearing itself. Basically, it allows the judge to say, yeah, we agree and we are going to dispose of this animal prior to the criminal case and the purpose for that is to make sure that the animal is not stuck in a cage for months and months until the criminal case was heard and disposal does not mean kill. It can mean to adopt out, it can mean euthanize if the animal is aggressive or sick but it certainly means to basically award the custody of the animal to the state fully.
Audience Question: Can you talk about the animal protection Expo and where we can get more information about it?
Claudine Wilkins: There’s one thing that I wanted to mention to you and it’s on my Facebook page. The prosecutors what can they show a jury and what is a game changer? One of the puppy mill cases was someone had taken an animal, rescued it out of it. Within two days, the dog was in their home and she videotaped the animal literally sleeping standing up in the middle of her living room and it got posted on Facebook, not on mine but it went viral. I mean that is just so shocking to see that an animal has learned to sleep standing up because the cages that they were living in were so crowded. It just popped into my head, if you want to get on our Facebook page, the animal officer’s Facebook page. It’s pinned to the top there. That is already out for public consumption not by me but someone who rescued the animal. To get more on the animal protection conference, you can go to animallawsource.org. The registration is opening in about a week and the registration will be at the animalprotectionexpo.org website. You’ll also find links to it on our Facebook in the animal law source site. It’s a great place to meet other professionals in animal rescue and animal advocates, prosecutors, judges, law enforcement, animal behaviors, trainers, animal control, veterinarians, vet techs, experts. It’s a great group of people, lawmakers. it’s just a wonderful expo. This is our 21st year and I’m proud to say that.
Christina: Liza just shared, she worked on one of the cases that you just talked about. It actually turned into 500 animals because so many of the dogs were pregnant at the time. Beth also recommends having a ruler in these photos or something that helps show scale in the photos. She also recommended us to tag-alongs from some of your pieces of advice there, Claudine. Using online meteorological data, which is right there handy on the web, to show the records of ambient temperatures in a given area.
Audience Question: Can you clarify, is it only breeders selling over the internet that needs to be licensed with the UCA. Can you just touch on that again?
Claudine Wilkins: It’s actually the opposite. Breeders that just use the internet for sales do not have to be licensed. I will mention this; we worked on a case that the Cherokee county case, I think 359 animals were initially brought in but after the puppies were born there were over 400 and then one case we worked on is 275 white poodles or Maltese, and there were four veterinarians on the case but nobody took pictures of the veterinarians’ faces so this is a long time ago and when it came time to remember which veterinarian worked on each animal, some of the veterinarians could not remember whether that was them in the picture or not. So you might want to always put when you’re picturing an animal with a person for a purpose of evidentiary purposes you may want to have a safe with that person in the picture as well.
Audience Question: She’s asking about the mental illness of hoarding. Can you tackle a little bit more about the DSM-V diagnosis and how do you find treatments for these people who truly are mentally ill as a defendant?
Claudine Wilkins: I’m going to tell you the best readings I’ve had for this area is Gary Patronek’s. Initially, they thought OCD was connected to animal hoarding. In my understanding, there is a big difference between a hoarder and an animal hoarder but I will be happy to send some stuff to you but for sure I would tell you to Google Gary Patronek’s papers on animal hoarding. I personally have called some local therapists on hoarding to find someone who specializes in animal hoarding treatment and my feeling is that we’ve always been psych-evaluations, as former Prosecutor we did that routinely but the psych evaluation is if done by the wrong psychologist, they won’t find what they need to find. You’re prosecuting in your town and your defendant lives there probably so reach out for local therapists to do animal hoarding therapy and ask them to be part of psych-evaluations for your sentencing because if they don’t get the right treatment, the rate of recidivism I’ve been told is over 99%. They will continue to do it again. They will literally move of the county to do again if they need to because it’s a disease and they can’t stop. They really need treatment.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Criminal Cases Involving Multi-Animal Impounds.