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Petition drives for harder Mississippi animal cruelty laws

A photo taken by Moss Point Police shows injuries to a cat that led to the animal's death. A necropsy showed the cat died from severe thermal burns over the majority of its body.
A photo taken by Moss Point Police shows injuries to a cat that led to the animal's death. A necropsy showed the cat died from severe thermal burns over the majority of its body.

Mississippi animal protection activists have launched a petition drive to try to persuade Mississippi lawmakers to toughen the state's animal cruelty laws.

“Sen. Angela Hill proposed a Senate bill during the 2016 legislative session to strengthen Mississippi's inadequate animal cruelty laws,” Mississippi Spay and Neuter posted on its website. “Though it did not pass, it will be amended and resubmitted this year. Please read the bill and sign the petition to show your support for increased protections for Mississippi's animals!”

One signer pointed to the case of a cat that was scalded in Moss Point. A video that showed the cat writhing in pain went viral and helped lead police and animal rescue workers to the body of the cat. No arrests have been made, though.

The petition has been online since Dec. 7 and had 262 signatures Monday afternoon. Organizers have a goal of 10,000 digital signatures.

“As a state with some of the poorest animal cruelty protections in the nation, Mississippi's negative public image is detrimental to Mississippi's tourism and economic development revenue,” the petition says. “It also is a deterrent for potential Mississippi citizens and encourages current citizens to move to places that are more humane toward animals.”

“SB 2174 is not a threat to farmers and hunters, and will improve the quality of life for Mississippians and Mississippi's cats and dogs.”

The bill would allow prosecutors to file felony charges on the first, rather than the second, offense. It also would allow a separate charge for each incident of cruelty that occurs at a given time. Now, there is a single charge regardless of the number of animals involved.

Paul Hampton: 228-896-2330, @JPaulHampton

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