Torture of dogs or cats becomes felony in Miss.

By The Associated Press

JACKSON — Mississippi has become the 47th state to set felony charges for animal cruelty.

Gov. Haley Barbour has signed a bill that says anyone who intentionally tortures, burns, starves or disfigures a dog or cat could be charged with aggravated cruelty, which would remain a misdemeanor on a first offense. If another offense occurs within five years, it would be a felony.

The bill became law when Barbour signed it Tuesday.

Lydia Sattler, state director for the Humane Society of the United States, calls the new law “a monumental leap forward.”

The Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation lobbied against an animal cruelty bill in 2010, saying members feared it would hurt agriculture. The Farm Bureau and the Humane Society agreed on a compromise this year.

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The bill is Senate Bill 2821.