Animal Cruelty Law

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 30, 2009

Tougher animal cruelty law be should no-brainer

The Mississippi Legislature has tobacco taxes, voter ID, Medicaid funding and plenty other fractious issues to debate as its 2009 session wears on, but strengthening this state’s law against animal cruelty should be a no-brainer.

House Bill 1218 makes animal cruelty a felony.

There are plenty of horror stories. Like the man in Laurel who last October broke into his ex-girlfriend’s garage and took out on her two dogs his frustration over his failed love life. Gruesome, heinous and a misdemeanor.

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Remember Buddy, the black lab puppy in Gautier who was found in 2006 with his eyes glued shut with PVC pipe glue and his back legs broken? Gruesome, heinous and again, a misdemeanor.

Another house bill also places the roosters used for cockfighting under the felony animal cruelty law protection. We saw the cockfighting operation DeSoto County Sheriff Bill Rasco raided earlier this month. “Stronger laws are still needed to send the message that the residents of DeSoto County will not tolerate the cruel and illegal cockfighting industry,” Rasco said after seizing 225 birds.

Cockfighting, its attendant cruelty and the other illegal activity that becomes its fellow traveler flows to the jurisdiction where laws against it are weakest. Right now, unless HB1216 becomes law, that is Mississippi.

A society that acts to protect its animals against cruel treatment at the hands of humans by inference takes a position on protection of the its human population as well. A society that looks the other way while those cruel among us bait, mutilate and abuse animals because it gratifies their perverted need to feel empowered invites the same treatment of its most vulnerable human population.

Serial killers Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Albert DeSalvo and about one-half of the so-called school shooters in this country all shared a common background of having committed heinous acts of cruelty to animals before they turned to human victims.

So why isn’t this HB 1218 a shoo-in for passage into law? Why the failure of earlier attempts at making cruelty to animals a felony in Mississippi?

Our sources tell us it’s because these bills are always assigned to the House Agriculture Committee and never leave. They are regarded with paranoia by livestock interests who fear that strengthening laws against animal cruelty might be the slippery slope leading to PETA-like restrictions on farming and veterinary practices.

This is not true of HB 1218. This bill is reasonable, balanced and exempts hunting, fishing, trapping, scientific research, farming and veterinary practices.

Panola-Tate Representative Dr. Joe C. Gardner can be a key player here. He is Vice-Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee where this bill will die after next Tuesday unless it is reported out of the committee.

We urge him to go ahead, get the bill out of the committee and before the full House.

Then go on to voter tobacco taxes, voter ID, Medicaid funding and all those other issues you’re facing.