2016 Regular Session
To: Agriculture; Judiciary, Division A
By: Senator(s) Hill
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 97-41-16, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO CREATE A FIRST-OFFENSE FELONY OF AGGRAVATED ABUSE OF A DOG OR CAT; TO ENACT DEFINITIONS; TO LIMIT THE NUMBER OF COUNTS THAT CAN BE CHARGED ARISING FROM A SINGLE INCIDENT; TO REQUIRE THAT REPORTING OF ALL OFFENSES AGAINST DOGS OR CATS WILL CONFORM TO FBI REPORTING GUIDELINES; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 97-41-16, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
97-41-16. (1) (a) The provisions of this section shall be known and may be cited as the "Mississippi Dog and Cat Pet Protection Law of 2011."
(b) The intent of the Legislature in enacting this law is to provide only for the protection of domesticated dogs and cats, as these are the animals most often serving as the loyal and beloved pets of the citizens of this state. Animals other than domesticated dogs and cats are specifically excluded from the enhanced protection described in this section for dogs and cats. The provisions of this section do not apply, and shall not be construed as applying, to any animal other than a domesticated dog or cat.
(2) (a) If a person shall
intentionally or with criminal negligence wound, deprive of food or water,
or adequate shelter * * *
, food or water that protects the animal from the elements
of wind and water and allows the animal to remain dry, or carry or confine
in a cruel manner, any domesticated dog or cat, or cause any person to do the
same, then he or she shall be guilty of the offense of simple cruelty to a dog
or cat. A person who is convicted of the offense of simple cruelty to a dog or
cat shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined not more than One Thousand
Dollars ($1,000.00), or imprisoned not more than six (6) months, or both.
If a person with malice shall intentionally torture, mutilate, maim, burn, suffocate,
drown, starve to death or disfigure any domesticated dog or cat, or
cause any person to do the same, then he or she shall be guilty of the offense
of aggravated cruelty to a dog or cat. * * *
A person who is
convicted of * * * aggravated cruelty to a dog or cat * * * shall be guilty of a felony and fined not more than Five
Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) and imprisoned for not less than one (1) year nor
more than five (5) years.
(c) * * *
As used in this section, "adequate
shelter" for dogs and cats predominantly maintained outdoors means a
shelter that is: structurally sound and strong enough to block rain, sun and
wind; constructed of materials that are impervious to moisture including a
floor with a solid surface such as a resting platform, pad, floor mat or a
similar device; constructed with a minimum of three (3) sides and a waterproof
roof allowing the animal to remain dry and clean; of sufficient space to allow
the animal freedom of movement; and properly ventilated and periodically
cleaned to minimize health hazards.
For purposes of this section, * * *
if more * * * than one (1) act of the
offenses of simple cruelty to a dog or cat or aggravated cruelty to a dog or
cat, committed against one or more domesticated dogs or cats, or any
combination thereof * * *
is alleged, each act shall constitute a * * * separate offense if the alleged
acts occurred at the same time and arose out of the same set of
circumstances, but not to exceed ten (10) counts of simple or aggravated
cruelty to a dog or cat.
(3) In addition to such fine or imprisonment which may be imposed:
(a) 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 the actual veterinarian fees, medicine, special supplies, loss of income and other costs incurred as a result of actions in violation of subsection (2) of this section; and
(b) The court may order that:
(i) The reasonable costs of sheltering, transporting and rehabilitating the dog or cat, and any other costs directly related to the care of the dog or cat, be reimbursed to:
1. Any law enforcement agency; or
2. Any agency or department of a political subdivision that is charged with the control, protection or welfare of dogs or cats within the subdivision. The agency or department may reimburse a nongovernmental organization for such costs, if the organization possesses nonprofit status under the United States Internal Revenue Code and has the purpose of protecting the welfare of, or preventing cruelty to, dogs or cats.
(ii) The person convicted:
1. Receive a psychiatric or psychological evaluation and counseling or treatment for a length of time as prescribed by the court. The cost of any evaluation, counseling and treatment shall be paid by the offender upon order of the court, up to a maximum amount that is no more than the jurisdictional limit of the sentencing court.
2. Perform community service for a period not exceeding the applicable maximum term of imprisonment that may be imposed for conviction of the offense.
3. Be enjoined from employment in any position that involves the care of a dog or cat, or in any place where dogs or cats are kept or confined, for a period which the court deems appropriate.
(4) (a) Nothing in this section shall be construed as prohibiting a person from:
(i) Defending himself or herself or another person from physical or economic injury being threatened or caused by a dog or cat.
(ii) Injuring or killing an unconfined dog or cat on the property of the person, if the unconfined dog or cat is believed to constitute a threat of physical injury or damage to any domesticated animal under the care or control of such person.
(iii) Acting under the provisions of Section 95-5-19 to protect poultry or livestock from a trespassing dog that is in the act of chasing or killing the poultry or livestock, or acting to protect poultry or livestock from a trespassing cat that is in the act of chasing or killing the poultry or livestock.
(iv) Engaging in practices that are licensed or lawful under the Mississippi Veterinary Practice Act, Section 73-39-51 et seq., or engaging in activities by any licensed veterinarian while following accepted standards of practice of the profession within the State of Mississippi, including the euthanizing of a dog or cat.
(v) Rendering emergency care, treatment, or assistance to a dog or cat that is abandoned, ill, injured, or in distress, if the person rendering the care, treatment, or assistance is acting in good faith.
(vi) Performing activities associated with accepted agricultural and animal husbandry practices with regard to livestock, poultry or other animals, including those activities which involve:
1. Using dogs in such practices.
2. Raising, managing and using animals to provide food, fiber or transportation.
3. Butchering animals and processing food.
(vii) Training for, or participating in, a rodeo, equine activity, dog show, event sponsored by a kennel club or other bona fide organization that promotes the breeding or showing of dogs or cats, or any other competitive event which involves the lawful use of dogs or cats.
(viii) Engaging in accepted practices of dog or cat identification.
(ix) Engaging in lawful activities that are regulated by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks or the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, including without limitation, hunting, trapping, fishing, and wildlife and seafood management.
(x) Performing scientific, research, medical and zoological activities undertaken by research and education facilities or institutions that are:
1. Regulated under the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act, 7 USCS 2131 et seq., as in effect on July 1, 2011;
2. Regulated under the provisions of the Health Research Extension Act of 1985, Public Law No. 99-158; or
3. Subject to any other applicable state or federal law or regulation governing animal research as in effect on July 1, 2011.
(xi) Disposing of or destroying certain dogs under authority of Sections 19-5-50, 21-19-9 and 41-53-11, which allow counties, municipalities and certain law enforcement officers to destroy dogs running at large without proper identification indicating that such dogs have been vaccinated for rabies.
(xii) Engaging in professional pest control activities, including those activities governed by the Mississippi Pesticide Law of 1975, Section 69-23-1 et seq.; professional services related to entomology, plant pathology, horticulture, tree surgery, weed control or soil classification, as regulated under Section 69-19-1 et seq.; and any other pest control activities conducted in accordance with state law.
(xiii) Performing the humane euthanization of a dog or cat pursuant to Section 97-41-3.
(b) If the owner or person in control of a dog or cat is precluded, by natural or other causes beyond his reasonable control, from acting to prevent an act or omission that might otherwise constitute an allegation of the offense of simple cruelty to a dog or cat or the offense of aggravated cruelty to a dog or cat, then that person shall not be guilty of the offense. Natural or other causes beyond the reasonable control of the person include, without limitation, acts of God, declarations of disaster, emergencies, acts of war, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, floods or other natural disasters.
(5) The provisions of this section shall not be construed to:
(a) Apply to any animal other than a dog or cat.
(b) Create any civil or criminal liability on the part of the driver of a motor vehicle if the driver unintentionally injures or kills a dog or cat as a result of the dog or cat being accidentally hit by the vehicle.
(6) (a) Except as otherwise provided in Section 97-35-47 for the false reporting of a crime, a person, who in good faith and acting without malice, reports a suspected incident of simple cruelty to a dog or cat, or aggravated cruelty to a dog or cat, to a local animal control, protection or welfare organization, a local law enforcement agency, or the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, shall be immune from civil and criminal liability for reporting the incident.
(b) A veterinarian licensed in Mississippi or a person acting at the direction of a veterinarian licensed in Mississippi, who in good faith and acting without malice, participates in the investigation of an alleged offense of simple or aggravated cruelty to a dog or cat, or makes a decision or renders services regarding the care of a dog or cat that is involved in the investigation, shall be immune from civil and criminal liability for those acts.
(7) Other than an agency or department of a political subdivision that is charged with the control, protection or welfare of dogs or cats within the subdivision, any organization that has the purpose of protecting the welfare of, or preventing cruelty to, dogs or cats, shall register the organization with the sheriff of the county in which the organization operates a physical facility for the protection, welfare or shelter of dogs or cats, on or before the first day of October each year. The provisions of this subsection (7) shall apply to any organization that has the purpose of protecting the welfare of dogs or cats, or preventing cruelty to dogs or cats, regardless of whether the organization also protects animals other than dogs or cats.
(8) Nothing in this section shall limit the authority of a municipality or board of supervisors to adopt ordinances, rules, regulations or resolutions which may be, in whole or in part, more restrictive than the provisions of this section, and in those cases, the more restrictive ordinances, rules, regulations or resolutions will govern.
(9) (a) When investigating allegations of a violation of this section, whether or not an arrest results, law enforcement officers must utilize the form prescribed for investigation of simple or aggravated abuse of a dog or cat by the Attorney General in consultation with the sheriffs' and police chiefs' associations. Failure by a law enforcement officer to utilize the uniform offense report is not a defense to a crime charged under this section.
(b) In any conviction under this section, the sentencing order shall include the designation of "animal abuse." The court clerk must enter the disposition of the matter into the corresponding uniform offense report.
(c) The Attorney General, sheriffs' association, and police chiefs' association are responsible in devising the uniform report form to conform to the rules of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to facilitate entry of animal abuse offenses into the National Incident-Based Reporting System.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2016.