As Agriculture Commissioner, I pledge to use the power of my office to improve the welfare of all animals in Georgia.
You might not know it, but the Commissioner of Agriculture oversees a lot more than farming—and ensuring that our state’s animals are treated humanely is one of the most often overlooked, but important, duties.
Many of Georgia’s animal shelters are overrun and Georgia ranks 5th in the nation for euthanizing dogs and cats. The reason? An abundance of backyard breeders and puppy mills. In a state where you need a permit to fish, it is unthinkable that there are thousands of backyard breeders and puppy mills operating without any oversight.
Not only do these operations contribute to the overflowing of animal shelters, but the fact that they continue to operate in the dark allows them to avoid paying taxes on their income from breeding. Bringing dog breeding out of the shadows also helps reduce crime, as many dogs born out of backyard breeding go on to be used for dog fighting and other criminal activities.
Nakita has a plan to ensure a better quality of lives for companion animals (domesticated animals and pets) while cracking down on operations that contribute to animal abuse and overpopulation.
Under the Animal Welfare Plan, Nakita Hemingway will:
Fund local enforcement of breeding rules and regulations. The current rule of “one litter per dog” is difficult to enforce, as many of Georgia’s 159 counties do not have Code Enforcement or Animal Control departments to enforce even the existing rules and regulations.
Spread the message that “animal abuse will not be tolerated in Georgia” through the creation of public service announcements that will be disseminated via billboards, radio, and TV.
Put resources towards offering free/low cost spay and neuter clinics throughout the state on a quarterly basis. This will reduce the number of homeless animals, which will, in turn, free up local county budgets to focus on other needs.
Address the shortage of veterinarians in Georgia by advocating for student loan forgiveness for veterinary students who volunteer in their field. Not only will this make our vital spay/neuter surgeries more accessible to low-income Georgians, the reduced costs associated with veterinary school will encourage more students to enter the profession.
It is important to note that these plans will IN NO WAY affect hunters, farmers or licensed and responsible breeders.