On March 30, 2022, George Hampton Arnold, age 64, was arrested for shooting a gun at his own dog. He was subsequently indicted by a Grand Jury for three counts of Aggravated Cruelty to Animals pursuant O.C.G.A. 16-12-4.
The police report suggests Mr. Arnold shot his dog in the backyard because one dog got loose and bit him on the ankle while trying to take the dogs food and water. In response, Mr. Arnold admitted to retrieving a firearm from his vehicle and shot at the dog who bit him. The intended dog was shot three times and two other dogs were struck once each. All of the dogs were retrieved by Animal Control.
Mr. Arnold shot “Sparkle” who was injured so badly that it cannot walk or defecate normally. Thankfully, the team with Athens-Clarke County Animal Services and their partners took care of all three dogs to assist with their recovery. The dogs required thousands of dollars in veterinary care as a result of injuries from the gunshots.
Interestingly, Mr. Arnold was a convicted felon and prohibited by law from having a firearm. He was sentenced to serve several years of prison based on a conviction from Clarke County for the Sale and Distribution of Cocaine in the 1990’s. For reasons unknown, the District Attorney’s Office failed to pursue the felony charge related to Mr. Arnold’s illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Although there is little doubt the injuries sustained by at least one of the dogs resulted in serious disfigurement, the District Attorney’s Office unjustifiably reduced all of the charges to misdemeanor animal cruelty and allowed George Hampton Arnold to plea to a sentence of three years probation.
Despite the undeniable risk to animals in Mr. Arnold’s care, the District Attorney’s Office did not require any special conditions of probation such as a restriction on having animals in his household. There was also no fine or community service imposed.
The issue of restitution, the amount Mr. Arnold has to pay for the injuries sustained by the dogs, remains open for 60 days. It will be interesting to see if the District Attorney’s Office takes any action to at least hold Mr. Arnold financially accountable for his actions or if Ms. Gonzalez is going to just expect the citizens of Athens-Clarke County to cover the bills.
At this time, it is unknown is the District Attorney’s office registered Mr. Arnold in the FBI’s animal cruelty database.
When will the District Attorney’s Office take appropriate steps to hold violent offenders from committing criminal acts with firearms, especially firearms that are illegally possessed?
Here is a photo from a recent submission by a concerned citizen: