BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Governor Reeves signed an animal cruelty bill into law Wednesday in an effort to protect cats and dogs and to increase penalties for abuse.
Mississippi Citizens Against Animal Cruelty is a group that was formed to push for the new dog and cat protection law and MCAAC President Debbie Martin has been looking forward to this day.
“It is just such, such, a relief. When I saw it on the house live today I got chills,” said Martin. “I cried like a baby and I’m not ashamed to admit it. It’s the happiest that I have ever been.”
For years MCAAC has been working with senators like Angela Burks Hill to create stiffer penalties for people convicted of animal abuse or cruelty.
“If the federal government can pass a federal bill that’s much stronger, we at least in Mississippi can pass state legislation that models what the federal government has done so that we can provide state charges for some of these heinous acts of cruelty and we can provide more than one count for all these neglect charges,” said Burks Hill.
Now, each act of cruelty or abuse that is committed against more than one animal will count as a separate offense.
“It will be a felony and the fine will double and there will be prison time and psychological counseling,” said Martin. “They will no longer be able to own or reside in a home with pets for a number of years. It takes care of our poor fur babies that are abused or neglected.”
Martin says if a person is convicted of an aggravated cruelty felony, they will also be put on a FBI watch list.
“Which means it will go into any employment search history,” said Martin. “It’s like I said once before, ‘Do I want somebody that’s abused an animal taking care of my grandmother in a nursing home?' Oh no.”
You can read the full bill here.