COLBERT, Ga. -- Authorities won't press charges against the owner of a goat that attacked an 88-year-old Colbert man last month, though city leaders plan to bolster animal control as a result.
Colbert, the only city in Madison County that handled its own animal control, decided last week to ask the county to enforce animal control laws in response to an Aug. 22 attack that fatally injured Vestal Davis of Smithonia-Colbert Road.
The Colbert City Council voted last week to give the county the responsibility of responding to problem animals in the city limits. The Madison County Board of Commissioners must approve the agreement before it takes effect.
"We did adopt it, and it was all driven with the incident with Mr. Davis," Mayor Chris Peck said Monday.
Davis died Aug. 28 at Athens Regional Medical Center, five days after a goat hit him repeatedly and left him with fractures and paralyzing injuries that led to his death.
The sheriff's office planned to press charges against the goat's 69-year-old owner for of allowing livestock to roam free, but decided against it, Madison County Sheriff Kip Thomas said.
"The (Davis) family didn't want to, so we didn't," Thomas said.
The goat escaped when a tree branch fell and broke the fence around its pen.
County animal control officers sometimes answer livestock calls, but mainly stick to cats and dogs, said Jack Huff, animal control supervisor.
The state Department of Agriculture generally answers livestock complaints in the county, and the state Department of Natural Resources handles calls about wild animals.
Neither has the time nor the manpower to catch a snake slithering into someone's home or a rogue possum peeking through an air vent, Huff said.
"If I can get to them - if it's something that I can do - I do," he said.
The department also prioritizes animal complaints. Dogs that bite humans - or other animals - are at the top of the list, compared to a report of livestock on the loose, he said.
Huff's already gotten two calls from Colbert residents, but said he can't do anything inside the city until commissioners approve the agreement with Colbert later this month.
Allying with the county for animal control will make the process of removing problem animals easier for residents to understand, Peck said.
"This, to me, cuts down on the confusion," he said.