The Department of Agriculture has initiated an internal audit of current rules and regulations within their Companion Animal Division.
“As a regulatory agency, GDA can only work within the framework of the law given to us under the authority of the Georgia Animal Protection Act,” said Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black. “However, after receiving thoughtful input from concerned citizens, we believe there are some non-legislative actions that can be implemented quickly to better serve our licensed establishments and community.”
The Georgia Animal Protection Act gives the Georgia Department of Agriculture authority to license and regulate breeders, rescues, shelters and pet stores. Fifteen full-time companion animal/ equine inspectors and three field supervisors ensure that the 4,000 licensed establishments remain in compliance statewide. To accomplish compliance, inspectors also work in conjunction with various local, state and federal agencies to assist them with investigating complaints.
The review comes after some recent discoveries of breeders operating in unsanitary conditions.
“After a thorough review of inspection reports, it was determined that appropriate disciplinary action was required to adequately address performance issues,” Black said. “In addition to the disciplinary action taken, we’ve revisited our strategic plan for companion animals to prioritize a few items aimed at improving our effectiveness and transparency.”
Immediate policy improvement efforts within the companion animal program comprise of identifying training needs and improving communications for our supervisors, staff, and external community partners; inclusion of mandatory documentation of the approximate number of animals at each facility inspected; development of risk-based, priority settings for each establishment to assure appropriate inspection frequencies; and mandating inspectors to coordinate with local law enforcement or animal control when humane care violations are evident. Any proposed changes to the Department’s companion animal rules and regulations must go through a notice and comment period.
This is a press release.