Time Ticking On Animal Cruelty Law

When animal control officer Shaun Perrone checks out complaints about neglected horses, he has to rely on a state law that gives him the authority to charge the owner only with a misdemeanor.

"All we can do is pretty much teach the people what they need to do, have a veterinarian come out and we'll follow up with it. The state definitely needs to revise their animal cruelty laws," Perrone says.

The Senate did that, but the cruelty bill it passed now awaits action by two house committees. The agriculture committee chairman says it's doubtful the bill will make it before next Tuesday's deadline.

"The issue will be taken up next year. We will bring veterinarians, the breeders association and all the people that this legislation may affect," Representative Bo Eaton says.

Humane Society representative Eric Aschaffenburg says waiting another year is too long to protect animals.

"Right now we don't have animal cruelty laws in this state that are effective, so we need something."

Humane societies, veterinarians and animal control officers worked together to draft the Senate measure.

"What happened in the Senate is the way it should happen in the House and that is a compromise - finding out what people had problems with and then we worked it out so that we had a bill that protected our animals. Mr. Eaton doesn't even want to consider the bill," Aschaffenburg says.

He says concerned citizens should call their state representatives and demand action on the bill in the House before Tuesday's deadline. By the way, dog fighting is the only animal felony in Mississippi.