BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Animal advocates gathered in Biloxi on Sunday to demand stricter animal abuse laws in the state.
The death of two bills in the recent legislative session that would have accomplished that isn't about to slow them down.
Jeannette Johnson of Biloxi was in tears describing a dog's unconditional love; even to abusers.
"They will kiss you, and forgive you, and let you do whatever to them and still love you," Johnson said. "And they don't deserve it. They deserve better and Mississippi has to tighten these laws."
Doll Stanley is with the Justice for Animals in Mississippi through In Support of Animals, the organization behind the vigil.
"If a dog is worth $500 or more, then it can be a felony under property law. I'm sorry, my dog is not my property. He's my companion. He's my friend. And he's valuable to me beyond a felony."
Two bills that made it a felony for first-time offense cruelty to dogs or cats died in committee.
"I expected it," Stanley said. "I fully expected it. But, we're not going to give up. We're going to keep pounding."
The vigil was in part prompted by the two recent cases involving an alleged beating of a dog in Gulfport, and the death of a cat after it was doused with boiling water in Moss Point.
One strategy for the future is grassroots education.
"Most of the people I work with are new," said Gulfport resident Elaine Adair with Mississippi Spay and Neuter. "And we really want to spend our time and our energy focusing on things that are important to us and, it's like Gandhi says, moral society is judged on how we treat our animals."
The three men in Moss Point charged with scaling the cat are scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday.
The hearing for Billy Swain in the alleged beating of his dog will be March 30.