2007 Regular Session
By: Representative Holland (By Request)
AN ACT TO REVISE THE CRIME OF ANIMAL CRUELTY; TO AMEND SECTION 97-41-1, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO INCORPORATE ELEMENTS OF OFFENSES FOUND ELSEWHERE IN CHAPTER 41 PERTAINING TO CRIMES AGAINST ANIMALS AND TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN MISDEMEANOR AND FELONY DEGREES OF THE OFFENSE; TO AMEND SECTION 97-41-2, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO CREATE THE POSITION OF "CRUELTY INVESTIGATOR" AND TO REQUIRE THAT A PERSON HOLDING SUCH POSITION SHALL POSSESS CERTAIN CREDENTIALS; TO ALLOW DISTRICT ATTORNEYS AND LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS TO RELY UPON AFFIDAVITS MADE BY CRUELTY INVESTIGATORS; TO SET FORTH PENALTIES FOR ACTING AS A CRUELTY INVESTIGATOR WITHOUT POSSESSING THE PROPER CREDENTIALS; TO REVISE THE PROCEDURE FOR LAWFULLY SEIZING AN ANIMAL; TO PROVIDE THAT IF AN ANIMAL IS SEIZED UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS, THE ANIMAL SHALL BE FORFEITED TO THE STATE FOR RELEASE TO AN ORGANIZATION THAT HAS AS ITS PURPOSE THE PROTECTION OF ANIMALS; 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 SECTIONS 97-41-5, 97-41-7, 97-41-9 AND 97-41-13, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, WHICH CONSTITUTE CERTAIN MISDEMEANOR OFFENSES AND PENALTIES FOUND IN THE CHAPTER OF LAW PERTAINING TO THE CRIME OF ANIMAL CRUELTY; 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 person shall * * * be guilty of simple animal cruelty who knowingly, intentionally or recklessly:
(a) Abandons or leaves an animal at a location without providing for or arranging for the animal's continued sustenance;
(b) Subjects any animal to cruel mistreatment, or subjects an animal in the custody of the person to cruel neglect, and for purposes of this paragraph, cruel treatment and cruel neglect include every act or omission where unjustifiable physical injury, suffering or death is caused or permitted;
(c) Kills or injures any animal belonging to another without the legal privilege or consent of the owner; or
(d) Causes any act listed in this subsection (1) to be done.
(2) A person shall be guilty of the felony of aggravated animal cruelty who maliciously causes death, serious bodily injury or extreme physical suffering to an animal.
(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 purposes of this section, each incident of cruelty and each animal treated cruelly shall constitute the basis for a separate offense.
(d) For any conviction under this section, the court may order restitution to the animal's owner as well as the temporary custodian appointed by the court pursuant to Section 97-41-2(4) for the costs of boarding, professional fees, equipment, medicine, supplies, rehabilitation and other costs related to the care of the animal. Court-ordered restitution to an owner also shall include the cost of replacing the animal at the market value of such an animal at the time of its death, the actual expenses incurred for treatment by a veterinarian, special supplies or food, loss of the owner's income caused by the animal's death or by caring for the animal after its injury, and, in the discretion of the court, any other costs related to the animal's injury and/or death.
(e) A person convicted under this section may be enjoined from possessing an animal or animals or from residing or working where animals are kept, or in the discretion of the court may be prohibited from possessing any animal as a condition of probation or parole.
(f) 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.
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 Standard 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) District attorneys, assistant district attorneys, or law enforcement officers making application for a search warrant may rely upon supplemental affidavits made by cruelty investigators.
(3) (a) A cruelty investigator is any person, other than a law enforcement officer as defined in Section 45-6-1 et seq., who investigates violations of, or seeks to enforce any criminal provision of state law relating to the humane care, treatment, or handling of animals under color of authority of either an organization the purpose of which is the prevention of cruelty to animals or a political subdivision of the state.
(b) No person shall act as a cruelty investigator unless:
(i) The person has been duly appointed as a cruelty investigator by the governing board of the organization or political subdivision; and
(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.
(c) 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.
(4) 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.
(5) 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, 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 * * * be responsible for directly contracting for or administering 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 to inform such person that the animal has been seized. The process and notice shall contain a description of the animal seized, the date and time of seizure, 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.
(6) 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.
(7) 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 (6) of this section exists, the animal shall be forfeited to the state.
(8) Any animal forfeited to the state under this section shall be released to an organization exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code the purpose of which is the protection of animals. If no such organization is willing to receive the animal, the animal shall be released to an animal control agency for adoption or other humane disposition.
(9) 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.
* * *
SECTION 3. Section 97-41-3, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
97-41-3. Any law enforcement officer, cruelty investigator 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 the animal's suffering when it cannot be relieved otherwise. A method of killing approved by the most recent report of the American Veterinary Medical Association Panel on Euthanasia in effect at the time of the euthanasia shall be presumed to be humane.
SECTION 4. (1) Any and all of the activities associated with or incidental to the lawful practices and activities enumerated in this section will not be violations of this chapter or any other state law pertaining to the criminal offense of animal cruelty. Those activities include:
(a) Hunting or trapping of wildlife;
(c) Herding of domestic animals;
(d) Accepted animal husbandry practices including slaughter;
(e) Accepted dog handling and training practices;
(f) Accepted veterinary practices;
(g) Humane euthanasia of animals performed at an animal shelter;
(h) Accepted pest control practices;
(i) Accepted animal handling practices at livestock shows;
(j) Accepted equine activities;
(k) Rodeo practices accepted by the Professional Rodeo Cowboy's Association; or
(l) 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 death 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 4 of this act shall be codified within Chapter 41, Title 97, Mississippi Code of 1972.
SECTION 10. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2007.