2006 Regular Session
To: Judiciary, Division B
By: Senator(s) Tollison
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 ELIMINATE THE DEFINITION OF "ANIMAL" CONTAINED IN THAT SECTION; TO AMEND SECTION 97-41-3, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE THE PROCESS BY WHICH AN ANIMAL MAY BE LAWFULLY DESTROYED, AND TO GRANT IMMUNITY TO THOSE ACTING UNDER THE SECTION IN GOOD FAITH; TO ENACT DEFINITIONS; 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 OR 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 AMEND SECTION 97-41-16, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO INCLUDE FELINES WITH CANINES IN THE PROHIBITION AGAINST MALICIOUS OR MISCHIEVOUS INJURY; 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) Fails to provide minimum care for or cruelly and unnecessarily causes substantial physical pain or injury to an animal; or
(iii) Causes any act listed in subparagraph (i) or (ii) of this paragraph (a) to be done.
(b) It shall not be a violation of this section to cause physical pain or injury to an animal if done for the good of the animal or to kill an animal for humane reasons if the animal is injured or diseased past reasonable recovery or by age has become useless, or if the animal is a danger to life, property or other animals.
(2) A person shall be guilty of aggravated animal cruelty who knowingly, intentionally or recklessly tortures, maims or mutilates 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 in jail 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 in jail 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 law enforcement agencies or animal control or humane societies for the costs of investigation, sheltering, rehabilitation and other costs related to securing the conviction.
(d) A person convicted under this section may be enjoined from possessing an animal or animals or residing or working where animals are kept.
(e) A person convicted under this section may be ordered to perform community service, to participate in professional counseling, or both.
SECTION 2. Section 97-41-2, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
97-41-2. (1) All courts in the State of Mississippi may order the seizure of an animal by a law enforcement agency, for its care and protection upon a finding of probable cause to believe said animal is being cruelly treated, neglected or abandoned. Such probable cause may be established upon sworn testimony of any person who has witnessed the condition of said animal. The court may appoint an animal control agency, agent of an animal shelter organization, veterinarian or other person as temporary custodian for the said animal, pending final disposition of the animal pursuant to this section. Such temporary custodian shall directly contract and be responsible for any care rendered to such 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 to inform such person that the animal has been seized. Such 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.
(2) Within five (5) days of seizure of an animal, the owner of the animal may request a hearing in the court ordering the animal to be seized to determine whether the owner is able to provide adequately for the animal and is fit to have custody of the animal. The court shall hold such hearing within fourteen (14) days of receiving such request. The hearing shall be concluded and the court order entered thereon within twenty-one (21) days after the hearing is commenced. Upon requesting a hearing, the owner shall have three (3) business days to post a bond or security with the court clerk in an amount determined by the court to be sufficient to repay all reasonable costs sufficient to provide for the animal's care. Failure to post such bond within three (3) days shall result in forfeiture of the animal to the court. If the temporary custodian has custody of the animal upon the expiration of the bond or security, the animal shall be forfeited to the court unless the court orders otherwise.
(3) In determining the owner's fitness to have custody of an animal, the court may consider, among other matters:
(a) Testimony from law enforcement officers, animal control officers, animal protection officials, and other witnesses as to the condition the animal was kept in by its owner or custodian.
(b) Testimony and evidence as to the type and amount of care provided to the animal by its owner or custodian.
(c) Expert testimony as to the proper and reasonable care of the same type of animal.
(d) Testimony from any witnesses as to prior treatment or condition of this or other animals in the same custody.
(e) Violations of laws relating to animal cruelty that the owner or custodian has been convicted of prior to the hearing.
(f) Any other evidence the court considers to be material or relevant.
(4) Upon proof of costs incurred as a result of the animal's seizure, including, but not limited to, animal medical and boarding, the court may order that the animal's owner reimburse the temporary custodian for such costs. A lien for authorized expenses is hereby created upon all animals seized under this section, and shall have priority to any other lien on such animal.
(5) If the court finds the owner of the animal is unable or unfit to adequately provide for the animal, or that the animal is severely injured, diseased, or suffering, and, therefore, not likely to recover, the court may order that the animal be permanently forfeited and released to an animal control agency, animal protection organization or to the appropriate entity to be euthanized or the court may order that such animal be sold at public sale in the manner now provided for judicial sales; any proceeds from such sale shall go first toward the payment of expenses and costs relating to the care and treatment of such animal, and any excess amount shall be paid to the owner of the animal.
(6) Upon notice and hearing as provided in this section, or as a part of any preceding conducted under the terms of this section, the court may order that other animals in the custody of the owner that were not seized be surrendered and further enjoin the owner from having custody of other animals in the future.
(7) If the court determines the owner is able to provide adequately for, and have custody of, the animal, the court shall order the animal be claimed and removed by the owner within seven (7) days after the date of the order.
(8) 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, animal control officer, veterinarian or agent of a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals may kill, or cause to be killed, in a humane manner, any animal found neglected, injured or abandoned if * * * it is injured or diseased past reasonable recovery, or by age has become useless. Anyone acting in good faith pursuant to this section shall not be held liable either criminally or civilly for that action.
SECTION 4. For the purposes of this chapter, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings ascribed unless the context clearly requires otherwise:
(a) "Minimum care" means the provision of necessary sustenance to maintain the health of an animal, including an adequate quality and quantity of food, potable water, shelter which provides protection from the elements of adverse weather such as heat, cold, rain and wind, which is species appropriate, and veterinary care to prevent suffering.
(b) "Physical injury" means physical trauma, impairment of condition or inflicted pain, except for that which is necessary for veterinary treatment.
(c) "Torture" means an act primarily done to inflict pain or suffering.
(d) "Torment" means an act primarily intended to cause anguish, fear or suffering.
SECTION 5. (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:
(a) Defending his person or property, or the person or property of another, from injury or damage being caused by an animal; or
(b) Injuring or killing an animal reasonably believed to constitute a threat of injury or damage to property, livestock or poultry.
SECTION 6. Section 97-41-5, Mississippi Code of 1972, which provides that carrying any creature in a cruel or inhuman manner is a misdemeanor, is repealed.
SECTION 7. 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 8. 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 9. Section 97-41-16, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
97-41-16. (1) Any person who shall maliciously, either out of a spirit of revenge or wanton cruelty, or who shall mischievously kill, maim or wound, or injure any dog or cat, or cause any person to do the same, shall be fined not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) or be imprisoned not exceeding six (6) months.
(2) In addition to such fine or imprisonment which may be imposed, the court shall order that restitution be made to the owner of such dog or cat. The measure for restitution in money shall be the current replacement value of such loss and/or the actual veterinarian fees, special supplies, loss of income and other cost incurred as a result of actions in violation of subsection (1) of this section.
SECTION 10. Section 97-41-13, Mississippi Code of 1972, which provides penalties for certain acts of cruelty to animals, is repealed.
SECTION 11. Sections 4 and 5 of this act shall be codified within Title 97, Chapter 41, Mississippi Code of 1972.
SECTION 12. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2006.