2006 Regular Session
To: Judiciary, Division B
By: Senator(s) Wilemon
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 97-41-1, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE THE CRIME OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS, TO INCORPORATE ELEMENTS OF OFFENSES FOUND ELSEWHERE IN CHAPTER 41, AND TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN MISDEMEANOR AND FELONY DEGREES OF THE OFFENSE; TO AMEND SECTION 97-41-2, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE THE PROCESS BY WHICH AN ANIMAL MAY BE LAWFULLY SEIZED, TO REQUIRE CERTIFICATION OF HUMANE ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS AND TO PROVIDE A PENALTY FOR NONCOMPLIANCE; TO AMEND SECTION 97-41-3, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE THE PROCESS BY WHICH AN ANIMAL MAY BE LAWFULLY DESTROYED; TO PROVIDE EXEMPTIONS FROM THE APPLICATION OF THE CHAPTER; TO REPEAL SECTION 97-41-5, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, WHICH PROVIDES THAT CARRYING ANY CREATURE IN A CRUEL AND INHUMANE MANNER IS A MISDEMEANOR; TO REPEAL SECTION 97-41-7, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, WHICH PROVIDES THAT CONFINING ANY LIVING CREATURE WITHOUT SUFFICIENT FOOD AND WATER IS A MISDEMEANOR; TO REPEAL SECTION 97-41-9, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, WHICH PROVIDES THAT A CUSTODIAN OF ANY LIVING CREATURE WHO FAILS TO PROVIDE SUFFICIENT FOOD AND DRINK IS GUILTY OF A MISDEMEANOR; TO REPEAL SECTION 97-41-13, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, WHICH PROVIDES PENALTIES FOR CERTAIN ACTS OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS; TO REPEAL SECTION 97-41-16, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, WHICH PROVIDES PENALTY AND RESTITUTION FOR MALICIOUS OR MISCHIEVOUS INJURY TO ANY DOG; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 97-41-1, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
97-41-1. (1) (a) A person shall be guilty of simple animal cruelty who knowingly, intentionally or recklessly:
(i) Abandons or leaves an animal at a location without providing for or arranging for the animal's continued sustenance;
(ii) Subjects any animal to cruel mistreatment;
(iii) Subjects an animal in the custody of the person to cruel neglect;
(iv) Kills or injures any animal belonging to another without legal privilege or consent of the owner; or
(v) Causes an act listed in item (i) or (iv) of this paragraph (a) to be done.
(b) "Cruel neglect" and "cruel mistreatment" include every act or omission where unjustifiable physical injury, suffering or death is caused or permitted.
(2) A person shall be guilty of aggravated animal cruelty who maliciously causes death, serious bodily injury or extreme physical suffering to an animal; aggravated animal cruelty is a felony.
(3) (a) (i) A first conviction of simple animal cruelty shall be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), imprisonment not to exceed six (6) months, or both.
(ii) A second conviction of simple animal cruelty shall be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00) nor more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), imprisonment not less than one (1) nor more than six (6) months, or both.
(iii) A third or subsequent conviction of simple animal cruelty shall constitute a felony.
(b) A conviction of a felony under this section shall be punishable by a fine of not more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections not to exceed five (5) years, or both.
(c) For any conviction under this section, the court may order restitution to the animal's owner as well as to the temporary custodian appointed by the court pursuant to Section 97-41-2(4) for the costs of board, professional fees, equipment, medicine, supplies, rehabilitation and other costs related to the care of the animal. The measure for restitution in money to an owner shall include current replacement value of the loss of the animal and the actual veterinarian fees, special supplies, loss of income and other costs incurred as a result of actions in violation of this section.
(d) A person convicted under this section, in addition to any other punishment that may be imposed, may be ordered to perform community service, to participate in professional counseling, or both.
(e) A person convicted under this section, in the discretion of the sentencing court, may be prohibited from possessing animals as a condition of any probationary or parole term imposed.
SECTION 2. Section 97-41-2, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
97-41-2. (1) Any district attorney, assistant district attorney, or law enforcement officer certified and meeting the requirements of the Board on Law Enforcement Officers Standards and Training as set forth in Section 45-6-1 et seq., may apply for a warrant for search and seizure to any circuit or county court in the State of Mississippi, within whose jurisdiction an animal is found, for the purpose of enforcing Section 97-41-1.
(2) (a) District attorneys, assistant district attorneys, or law enforcement officers making application for a search warrant may rely upon supplemental affidavits made by humane enforcement officers.
(b) No person shall perform as a humane enforcement officer under color of authority of an organization whose purpose is the prevention of cruelty to animals unless:
(i) The person has been duly appointed as a humane enforcement officer by the governing board of the organization;
(ii) The person is certified by and in good standing with the Association of Certified Cruelty Investigators or another certifying organization which provides education regarding animal husbandry and legal aspects of investigation, tests applicants for proficiency, and requires continuing education to remain in good standing; and
(iii) The governing body of the organization has posted a surety bond in the amount of One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00) for acts and omissions committed by the humane enforcement officer.
(c) No person shall perform as a humane enforcement officer under color of authority of a political subdivision of the State of Mississippi unless:
(i) The person has been duly appointed as a humane enforcement officer by the governing body of that political subdivision; and
(ii) The person is certified and in good standing with the Association of Certified Cruelty Investigators or another certifying organization which provides education regarding animal husbandry and legal aspects of investigation, tests applicants for proficiency, and requires continuing education to remain in good standing.
(d) Any person who violates, or attempts or conspires to violate this section, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), imprisonment not to exceed six (6) months, or both.
(3) The court may issue a search warrant upon a finding of probable cause that:
(a) A violation of Section 97-41-1 has been or is being committed; and
(b) That on the premises to be searched can be found:
(i) Evidence of a violation of Section 97-41-1;
(ii) Contraband, fruits of a violation of Section 97-41-1, or other items illegally possessed; or
(iii) Property designed for use, intended for use, or used in committing a violation of Section 97-41-1.
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(4) If an animal is seized, with or without a warrant, as evidence of a violation of Section 97-41-1, contraband, fruits of a violation of Section 97-41-1, property illegally possessed, or property intended for use, or used in committing a violation of Section 97-41-1, the court shall appoint a * * * temporary custodian for the * * * animal, pending final disposition of the animal at the conclusion of the criminal case. The temporary custodian shall directly contract and be responsible for any care rendered to the animal, and may make arrangements for such care as may be necessary. Upon seizure of an animal, the law enforcement agency responsible for removal of the animal shall serve notice upon the owner of the animal, if possible, and shall also post prominently a notice to the owner or custodian * * * that the animal has been seized. The process and notice shall contain a description of the animal seized, the date seized, the name of the law enforcement agency seizing the animal, the name of the temporary custodian, if known at the time, and shall include a copy of the order of the court authorizing the seizure.
(5) At the conclusion of the criminal case, unless there has been a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, or a finding of guilt, the court shall make a finding of whether, by a preponderance of the evidence, the animal is:
(a) Evidence of a violation of Section 97-41-1;
(c) Fruits of a violation of Section 97-41-1;
(d) Property illegally possessed; or
(e) Property intended for use, or used in committing a violation of Section 97-41-2.
(6) If there has been a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, a finding of guilt, or a finding by the court by a preponderance of the evidence that one or more of the conditions enumerated in subsection (5) of this section exists, the animal shall be forfeited to the state and released to an animal control agency or to an organization qualified under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code whose purpose is the protection of animals.
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(7) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent or otherwise interfere with a law enforcement officer's authority to seize an animal as evidence or require court action for the taking into custody and making proper disposition of animals as authorized in Sections 21-19-9 and 41-53-11.
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SECTION 3. Section 97-41-3, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
97-41-3. Any law enforcement officer, humane enforcement officer or veterinarian may kill, or cause to be killed, in a humane manner, any animal found neglected, injured or abandoned after all reasonable attempts have been made to locate the animal's legal owner. This shall not be construed to prevent immediate euthanasia by such persons if it is necessary to prevent unrelievable suffering of the animal. A method of killing approved by the most recent report of the American Veterinary Medical Association Panel on Euthanasia in effect at the time shall be presumed to be humane.
SECTION 4. (1) The following activities will not be violations of this chapter: any and all activities associated with or incidental to the lawful hunting or trapping of wildlife, fishing, herding of domestic animals, accepted animal husbandry practices including slaughter, accepted dog handling and training practices, accepted veterinary practices, humane euthanasia performed at an animal shelter, accepted pest control practices, livestock shows, accepted equine activities, rodeo practices accepted by the Professional Rodeo Cowboy's Association, or activities carried on for teaching or for scientific or medical research governed by accepted standards.
(2) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as prohibiting a person from injuring or killing an animal reasonably believed to constitute a threat of injury or damage to himself or another, or to property, livestock or poultry.
SECTION 5. Section 97-41-5, Mississippi Code of 1972, which provides that carrying any creature in a cruel or inhumane manner is a misdemeanor, is repealed.
SECTION 6. Section 97-41-7, Mississippi Code of 1972, which provides that confining any living creature without sufficient food and water is a misdemeanor, is repealed.
SECTION 7. Section 97-41-9, Mississippi Code of 1972, which provides that a custodian of any living creature who fails to provide sufficient food and drink is guilty of a misdemeanor, is repealed.
SECTION 8. Section 97-41-13, Mississippi Code of 1972, which provides penalties for certain acts of cruelty to animals, is repealed.
SECTION 9. Section 97-41-16, Mississippi Code of 1972, which provides for penalty for malicious or mischievous injury to dogs, is repealed.
SECTION 10. Section 4 of this act shall be codified within Title 97, Chapter 41, Mississippi Code of 1972.
SECTION 11. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2006.