Stephen Hasner | Georgia Law | July 8, 2020
Sloths have become very popular throughout the United States. Some states allow residents to own sloths legally. Georgia is not one of those states.
Georgia prohibits individuals from owning certain exotic species regulated under Georgia law, including sloths. These exotic animals typically do not make very good pets, even though they may appear cuddly and adorable.
Therefore, if you own a sloth in Georgia, you are breaking the law. If the sloth injures someone, you could be liable for civil damages, in addition to any criminal penalties that you might face for owning a banned exotic animal as a pet.
What is a Sloth?
For the most part, sloths are not dangerous when they are left alone in their trees in the rainforest. However, they are wild animals. If you try to pet a sloth or hold a sloth, it could scratch or bite you.
Even though sloths move extremely slowly, they have three to four-inch claws that can cause significant damage when they are threatened. They also have sharp teeth to defend themselves, and they are surprisingly strong.
Sloths are about 2.5 feet long and weigh between 10 to 17 pounds. They spend most of their time hanging upside down from trees in the rainforests in northern South America and Central America. They eat, sleep, and give birth while hanging upside down.
Sloths sleep up to 15 hours a day, mostly during the day. They are not social animals and prefer to be left alone. Sloths have a special diet and may require special care, which can be difficult to obtain in the United States.
What Makes Owning an Exotic Animal Risky?
The law bans individuals from owning exotic animals for several reasons. Some of the reasons why it is not a good idea to own an exotic animal include:
- Exotic animals cannot be domesticated. Even though you may raise an exotic animal from birth, the animal is still a wild creature. It could turn on you or another person without warning, even after you have owned the animal for years.
- Wild animals are meant to live in specific environments. They do not adjust to living in homes very well.
- Exotic animals can carry diseases. The diseases are safe for the animals but can be deadly to humans.
- It can be expensive to own an exotic animal. Most wild animals require special food, care, and habitats.
- Exotic animals grow up. They may be cute and easy to handle when they are young, but they grow into full-size adult animals.
- There is a public safety risk for owning wild animals. If the animals escape, they could cause harm to individuals and domesticated animals, including spreading diseases.
- Exotic pets suffer in captivity. They may also be abused or neglected in the exotic pet trade.
- Taking wild animals from their natural habitat can endanger the species.
- It is against the law and you could face fines and other penalties.
If you want a pet, you are probably better off sticking with a domesticated animal, such as a dog or cat.
Responsible Pet Ownership in Georgia
Owning a pet is a big responsibility. You need to be prepared to provide shelter, veterinarian care, food, and comfort for your pet. Also, you need to ensure that your pet does not roam free.
Pets that are allowed to roam free can injure people and other animals. Dogs that have never been aggressive or bitten anyone before could suddenly attack someone. If your dog attacks or bites another person, you could be held liable for the injuries and damages caused by the dog attack.
Always obey the animal control laws in your area and keep your dog on a leash when not confined to your property. If you have guests on your property, secure your dog to avoid injuries. If your dog is unruly, you might want to consider dog training classes.
What Should I Do if a Dog Bites Me or My Child?
If a dog bites you or your child, report the animal attack to the dog’s owner and the Fulton County animal control services. Seek immediate medical attention for your injuries. It can also be helpful to document the injuries by taking photographs and videos.
As soon as possible, contact a dog bite injury lawyer for legal advice. An attorney can help you take the steps necessary to seek compensation for your injuries and losses.
Damages that may be allowed in a dog bite claim include:
- Medical Care
- Loss of Income
- Scarring and Disfigurement
- Counseling and Therapy
- Physical Pain
- Emotional Suffering
- Permanent Impairments or Disabilities
Georgia laws hold dog owners liable for injuries and damages after a dog attack. Protect your rights by talking to an attorney.
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