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Two Overly-Broad Animal Cruelty Bills Advance to Mississippi Senate

(Friday, February 04, 2011)

Two overly-broad animal cruelty bills, SB 2127 and SB 2821, have advanced to the Mississippi State Senate calendar and could be voted upon at any time.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) supports strong penalties for acts of animal cruelty; however, we have concerns with several aspects of these bills as currently written.

SB 2127 prohibits cruelty to vertebrate animals and establishes the felony of aggravated cruelty against a dog or cat, punishable by incarceration for not less than twelve months and a fine of not less than $1500. Among several provisions of concern in SB 2127 are:

  • Cruelty to animals is defined so broadly that the act of knowingly injuring or killing household pests such as mice or non-poisonous snakes could lead to a charge of misdemeanor animal cruelty.
  • The definition of "torture" includes the "infliction of inhumane treatment." Interpretation of "inhumane treatment" is extremely subjective and thereby makes the definition of torture unreasonably broad.

SB 2821 amends existing law regarding the crime of animal cruelty. Among several provisions of concern in SB 2821 are:

  • The actions that constitute cruelty are overly broad. Additionally, the bill establishes that a conviction on any single offense, no matter how minor, involving three animals would be considered a felony, punishable by imprisonment for not less than one year and a fine of not less than $5000.
  • It requires any organization that has the purpose of protecting the welfare of, or preventing cruelty to dogs or cats, to arrange the surgical sterilization of a dog or cat prior to release to its owner.
    • There in no provision that such organization should have received possession of animals through process of law or action of a court.
    • There is no exemption to the sterilization requirement if charges against the owner are dismissed or if the owner is found not guilty.

Floor amendments to these bills may be pending. You can monitor the status of these bills, including any amendments, by clicking here.

How You Can Help

Contact your Mississippi State Senators and politely express concerns with SB 2127 and SB 2821. Click here for the Mississippi Senate Roster. Click here for links to each Senator’s web page.

Contact AKC Government Relations at (919) 816-3720 or doglaw@akc.org for additional information.