Petitioning Mississippi State Senate, District 2 David Parker and 11 others

Stronger laws for animal cruelty in Mississippi

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My name is Michelle Thompson and I am a resident of Warren County, Mississippi. The recent discoveries of the two dog fighting rings have moved me to tears. Seeing the horrific conditions of these poor animals were in along with the deplorable conditions they were forced to live in is appalling. Surely, you have seen the public outcry that the individuals responsible will will not get more than a slap on the wrist for this. The residents of Mississippi demand justice for these crimes.

I have provided a proposed amendment to our state legislature for consideration of amending Mississippi’s current animal cruelty laws, specifically, section 97-41-16 of Mississippi State Law, also known as the “Mississippi Dog and Cat Pet Protection Law of 2011,” to enhance penalties for acts of cruelty. I have researched multiple states animal cruelty laws and felt these proposed changes are a good starting point.

In no way, can the lobbyists (basically Farm Bureau) say this will eventually result in more regulations on livestock as it clearly defines companion and service animal to be dogs and cats. 

It is unacceptable that Mississippi’s current law that is meant to protect those who cannot speak for themselves, nor protect themselves, only allow the abusers to walk away with minimal jail time or worse yet, probation. These heinous acts should be, at the very least, felonies. Further, these criminals should never be allowed to own, or live in the same house with, another animal. If that means instituting an animal abuser registry, then that is what needs to happen.

 Companion animal. "Companion animal" means an animal that is commonly considered to be, or is considered by the owner to be, a pet. "Companion animal" includes canines and felines, whether owned or stray.

Service animal. "Service animal" means an animal trained in obedience and task skills to meet the needs of a person with a disability.

The residents of Mississippi expect you to stand up to the lobbyists and protect these animals and protect our animals by doing what is right. We are watching and we will vote for those who will get the job done.

Proposed Amendment:

Sec. 1. Owner's duties.

(a) Each owner shall provide for each of his or her animals:
        (1) a sufficient quantity of good quality, wholesome food and water;
        (2) adequate shelter and protection from the weather;
        (3) veterinary care when needed to prevent suffering;    
and
        (4) humane care and treatment.
    (b) To lawfully tether a dog outdoors, an owner must ensure that the dog:
        (1) does not suffer from a condition that is known, by that person, to be exacerbated by tethering;
        (2) is tethered in a manner that will prevent it from becoming entangled with other tethered dogs;
        (3) is not tethered with a lead that (i) exceeds
    
one-eighth of the dog's body weight or (ii) is a tow chain or a log chain;
        (4) is tethered with a lead that measures, when rounded to the nearest whole foot, at least 10 feet in length;
        (5) is tethered with a properly fitting harness or collar other than the lead or a pinch, prong, or choke-type collar; and
        (6) is not tethered in a manner that will allow it to reach within the property of another person, a public walkway, or a road.
    (c) Subsection (b) of this Section shall not be construed to prohibit:
        (1) a person from walking a dog with a hand-held leash;
        (2) conduct that is directly related to the cultivating of agricultural products, including shepherding or herding cattle or livestock, if the restraint is reasonably necessary for the safety of the dog;
        (3) the tethering of a dog while at an organized and lawful animal function, such as hunting, obedience training, performance and conformance events, or law enforcement training, or while in the pursuit of working or competing in those endeavors; or
        (4) a dog restrained in compliance with the requirements of a camping or recreational area as defined by a federal, State, or local authority or jurisdiction.
    (d) A person convicted of violating subsection (a) of this Section is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor. A second or subsequent violation of subsection (a) of this Section is a Class 4 felony with every day that a violation continues constituting a separate offense. In addition to any other penalty provided by law, upon conviction for violating subsection (a) of this Section, the court may order the convicted person to undergo a psychological or psychiatric evaluation and to undergo any treatment at the convicted person's expense that the court determines to be appropriate after due consideration of the evaluation. The court must order the convicted to never own animals again. If the convicted person is a juvenile or a companion animal hoarder, the court must order the convicted person to undergo a psychological or psychiatric evaluation and to undergo treatment that the court determines to be appropriate after due consideration of the evaluation.
    (e) A person convicted of violating subsection (b) of this Section is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor. The court must order the convicted to never own animals again.
    (f) As used in this Section, "tether" means to restrain by tying to an object or structure, including, without limitation, a house, tree, fence, post, garage, shed, or clothes line at a person's residence or business, by any means, including, without limitation, a chain, rope, cord, leash, or running line.
 

Sec. 1.01. Cruel treatment.
    (a) No person or owner may beat, cruelly treat, torment, starve, overwork or otherwise abuse any animal.
    (b) No owner may abandon any animal where it may become a public charge or may suffer injury, hunger or exposure.
    (c) No owner of a dog or cat that is a companion animal may expose the dog or cat in a manner that places the dog or cat in a life-threatening situation for a prolonged period of time in extreme heat or cold conditions that:
        (1) results in injury to or death of the animal; or
        (2) results in hypothermia, hyperthermia, frostbite, or similar condition as diagnosed by a doctor of veterinary medicine.
    Nothing in this Section shall prohibit an animal from being impounded in an emergency situation.
    (d) A person convicted of violating this Section is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. A second or subsequent conviction for a violation of this Section is a Class 4 felony. If multiple animals are involved, a person may be charged up to 15 counts of aggravated cruelty. In addition to any other penalty provided by law, a person who is convicted of violating subsection (a) upon a companion or service animal in the presence of a child shall be subject to a fine of $1500 and ordered to perform community service for not less than 100 hours. In addition to any other penalty provided by law, upon conviction for violating this Section, the court may order the convicted person to undergo a psychological or psychiatric evaluation and to undergo any treatment at the convicted person's expense that the court determines to be appropriate after due consideration of the evidence. If the convicted person is a juvenile or a companion animal hoarder, the court must order the convicted person to undergo a psychological or psychiatric evaluation and to undergo treatment that the court determines to be appropriate after due consideration of the evaluation. The court must order the convicted to never own animals again.
 

Sec. 1.02. Aggravated cruelty.
    (a) No person may intentionally commit an act that causes a companion or service animal to suffer serious injury or death. Aggravated cruelty does not include euthanasia of a companion or service animal through recognized methods approved by the Department of Agriculture.
    (b) No individual, except a licensed veterinarian as exempted, may knowingly or intentionally euthanize or authorize the euthanasia of a companion or service animal.
    (c) A person convicted of violating Section 1.02 is guilty of a Class 4 felony. A second or subsequent violation is a Class 3 felony. If multiple animals are involved, a person may be charged up to 15 counts of aggravated cruelty. In addition to any other penalty provided by law, upon conviction for violating this Section, the court may order the convicted person to undergo a psychological or psychiatric evaluation and to undergo any treatment at the convicted person's expense that the court determines to be appropriate after due consideration of the evaluation. If the convicted person is a juvenile or a companion animal hoarder, the court must order the convicted person to undergo a psychological or psychiatric evaluation and to undergo treatment that the court determines to be appropriate after due consideration of the evaluation. The court must order the convicted to never own animals again.

 Sec. 1.03. Animal torture.
    (a) A person commits animal torture when that person, without legal justification, knowingly or intentionally tortures an animal. For purposes of this Section, "torture" means infliction of or subjection to extreme physical pain, motivated by an intent to increase or prolong the pain, suffering, or agony of the animal.
    (b) For the purposes of this Section, "animal torture" does not include any death, harm, or injury caused to any animal by any of the following activities:
        (1) any hunting, fishing, trapping, or other activity allowed under Mississippi’s Wildlife Code;
        (2) any alteration or destruction of any animal done by any person or unit of government pursuant to statute, ordinance, court order, or the direction of a licensed veterinarian;
        (3) any alteration or destruction of any animal by any person for any legitimate purpose, including, but not limited to: castration, culling, declawing, defanging, ear cropping, euthanasia, gelding, grooming, neutering, polling, shearing, shoeing, slaughtering, spaying, tail docking, and vivisection; and
        (4) any other activity that may be lawfully done to an animal.
    (c) A person convicted of violating this Section is guilty of a Class 3 felony. As a condition of the sentence imposed under this Section, the court shall order the offender to undergo a psychological or psychiatric evaluation and to undergo treatment that the court determines to be appropriate after due consideration of the evaluation. The court must order the convicted to never own animals again.
 

This petition will be delivered to:
  • Mississippi State Senate, District 2
    David Parker
  • Mississippi State Senate, District 19
    Kevin Blackwell
  • Mississippi State Senate, District 49
    Sean Tindell
  • Mississippi State Senate, District 45
    Billy Hudson
  • Mississippi State Senate, District 8
    Russell Jolly
  • Mississippi State Senate, District 18
    Jennifer Branning
  • Mississippi State Senate, District 35
    Chris Caughman
  • President of the Senate, Lieutenant Governor
    Tate Reeves
  • Mississippi State Senate, District 37
    Bob Dearing
  • Mississippi State Senate, District 40
    Angela Burks Hill
  • Mississippi State Senate, District 23
    W. Briggs Hopson III
  • Speaker of the House, House of Representatives . District 56
    Philip Gunn


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