Georgia Appeals Court Judge Lisa Branch.(John Disney/Staff)


A pet-sitter attacked by a rooster named Sam in the suburban city of Roswell cannot sue, the Georgia Court of Appeals has ruled.

As owner of “Crabapple Critters” pet-sitting service, Josephine Gilreath assumed the risk of danger from animals in her charge, Judge Elizabeth Branch ruled, joined by Judges John Ellington and Tripp Self.

Plus the homeowners, Bruce and Jodi Smith, gave warning with a sign that said, “Caution. Area patrolled by Attack Rooster Security Co.”

And in case the pet-sitter didn’t take that sign seriously as she went about her business of feeding the chickens, the Smiths had more evidence of warning. Jodi Smith sent Gilreath a Facebook message that said: “Just throw food in the cages. Rooster will attack!”

Plus Jodi Smith offered a tip for fending off a rooster attack: Use a trash can lid as a shield.

Unfortunately, Gilreath had no trash can lid in hand in April 2014 when Sam attacked, spurring and pecking her and inflicting deep wounds in her legs that became inflamed and caused serious complications from a secondary infection, Branch wrote.

Gilreath’s attorney, Robert Lamar of Lamar Archer & Cofrin, argued that she had no choice but to open the coop on that occasion because she was asked not just to feed the chickens but to retrieve their eggs. And, Lamar suggested, she might have turned down the job if she had known then that Sam had already attacked Jodi Smith and her mother.

But the court sided on this point with the Smith’s attorney, Jay Eidex of Sharon Ware & Associates, a State Farm defense firm.

“We fail to see a difference from being warned that the rooster ‘will attack’ from a warning that others had already been attacked,” Branch wrote. “In short, Gilreath had equal knowledge of the danger and risks and acquiesced in exposing herself to the risk without taking any precautions.”

Branch upheld Fulton County State Court Judge Susan Edlein in dismissing the lawsuit.

The lawyers were not immediately available for comment.

The case is Gilreath v. Smith, No. A16A1747.