LESLIE CRISS: State in need of felony law for animal abuse

By Leslie Criss/NEMS Daily Journal

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

“I care not much for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.”
– Abraham Lincoln

“Ever occur to you why some of us can be this much concerned with animals suffering? Because government is not. Why not? Animals don’t vote.”
– Paul Harvey

Mississippi legislators have been batting around a proposed bill regarding animal cruelty.
The bill, as proposed, deals with making it a felony to commit acts of animal cruelty.
Mississippi is one of four states without a felony animal-cruelty law. The other three are Idaho, North Dakota and South Dakota.
As of Friday, the bill had been assigned to the House Agriculture Committee. From there a version will be sent to a subcommittee and later a full committee before we know exactly what language and exceptions the bill might contain.
Here’s hoping most of our legislators have, at one time or another, loved a pet, and vote accordingly.

The 39-year-old Minneapolis woman who wrapped a puppy tightly in a package and mailed it to someone in Georgia for a birthday gift was cited for misdemeanor animal cruelty.
I’d have given her a stiffer penalty, especially after she demanded her $22 postage refund, but it wasn’t my call.
Thankfully, a postal worker noticed movement and heard a noise, and the thirsty, frightened puppy was set free.
Because the woman who’d mailed the puppy did not want to pay to get the dog back, he has been at a Minneapolis shelter and as you might imagine, there’ve been lots of animal lovers wishing to adopt Guess.
The shelter planned to have a drawing of potential owners on Friday. After a careful screening process, the 5-month-old parcel puppy should have a new and good home.

At my first newspaper job in Carthage, we had a call one morning from a local veterinarian. Seems someone had decided it would be fun to use some kittens congregating outside the vet’s office for target practice. Eventually, all 10 kittens died.
The teenage culprits were caught, but nothing was done to them. No penalty. No education.
Whenever I read about any sort of animal abuse, I’ve thought of those kids and wondered if in the two decades since, they have killed or maimed any other living things.
As my friend, journalist and educator Sid Salter wrote on his blog, “Senate Bill 2127 is … a rather simple piece of legislation that makes intentional, aggravated cruelty against domesticated dogs and cats a first offense felony. Who’s against that? How many dogs should be set afire with lighter fluid before that’s a felony? What part of acts like that aren’t intentional? … Pass SB 2127.”
And all the animal lovers in the great state of Mississippi say:

Contact Leslie Criss at leslie.criss@ journalinc.com or (662) 678-1584.

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