2013 Mississippi Code
Title 97 - CRIMES
Chapter 41 - CRUELTY TO ANIMALS
§ 97-41-16 - Mississippi Dog and Cat Pet Protection Law of 2011; legislative intent; simple cruelty; aggravated cruelty; penalty; restitution; activities not constituting cruelty to dog or cat; immunity for good faith reporting of suspected cruelty; registration of organizations that have purpose of protection of or prevention of cruelty to dogs and cats


MS Code § 97-41-16 (2013) What's This?

(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 adequate shelter, food or water, 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.

(b) If a person with malice shall intentionally torture, mutilate, maim, burn, starve 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.

(i) A person who is convicted of a first offense of aggravated cruelty to a dog or cat shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined not more than Two Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($ 2,500.00), or imprisoned for not more than six (6) months, or both.

(ii) A person who is convicted of a second or subsequent offense of aggravated cruelty to a dog or cat, the offenses being committed within a period of five (5) years, 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) A conviction entered upon a plea of nolo contendere to a charge of aggravated cruelty to a dog or cat shall be counted as a conviction for the purpose of determining whether a later conviction is a first or subsequent offense.

(d) For purposes of this section, one or more alleged acts 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, shall constitute a single offense if the alleged acts occurred at the same time.

(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 cost s 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.

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