Exigent Circumstances - Animal Law Source

Exigent Circumstances

Exigent Circumstances


In Morgan v. State, 289 Ga. App. 209 (2008) the court determined that an officer’s entrance into the defendant’s backyard without a warrant was justified based on the exigent circumstances

– The court specifically held that due to the officer’s observation of mistreated and malnourished animals from the defendant’s driveway, past complaints against the defendant for animal mistreatment, and the harsh weather conditions the officer had “a reasonable belief that the dogs heard barking in the backyard were in need of immediate aid to prevent their serious injury or death.” Id. at 212.

– Based on this the officer’s warrantless entry into the defendant’s backyard was justified. Id. at 212. Furthermore, upon entering the back yard and observing dogs in a seriously deprived situation he was also justified in seizing the dogs in order to immediately transport them for medical treatment. Id. at 212

– The case essentially stands for the principle that the prevention of needless suffering and death of animals can create exigent circumstances that justify warrantless searches and rescues of animals. Id. at 212

  • There are no cases in Georgia that specifically stand for the exigent circumstance of animal suffering allowing for the breaking of a lock or a window. However, the Georgia courts have held officers to have been justified based on other exigent circumstances in the past. Specifically in Coker v. State, 164 Ga. App. 493