Animal cruelty bill

 Efforts to get Mississippi out of the bottom group of states in yet another national ranking got a boost last week in the state Senate.

The Senate passed 47-1 and sent to the House bill that would make it a felony to maliciously “torture, mutilate, maim, burn, starve, disfigure or kill any domesticated dog or cat.”

According to The Humane Society of the United States, Mississippi is one of only four states in the country that does not have a felony penalty for egregious acts of animal cruelty. Mississippi also is one of 11 states that do not a felony penalty for cockfighting, but that is another issue not covered in the current proposal.

Wayne Pacelle, president of The Humane Society, said there are major gaps in animal protection laws throughout the nation.

“Anemic animal protection laws in many states will allow cruelty and abuse to continue, and that must change,” he said.

Supporters of the bill say the current Mississippi law that makes violations a misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $1,000 and six months in jail discourages prosecution.

It encourages unscrupulous people, including those who operate puppy mills, to just ignore the law, knowing that little will result from it.

The bill, which is opposed by the Mississippi Canine Coalition, faces a less certain future in the state House.

We don’t know why anyone would oppose the bill. In fact, we don’t know why it would not have passed the Senate unanimously.

Certainly, anyone who would have seen the Union County puppy mill raided last year by the county sheriff and the Humane Society could not oppose it.

Mississippi needs to join most of the rest of the country in dealing quickly and harshly with those who do terrible things to dogs and cats.