2019 Mississippi Code
Title 97 - Crimes
Chapter 41 - Cruelty to Animals
§ 97-41-21. Harassment of guide, leader, hearing, service or support dogs; penalties

Universal Citation: MS Code § 97-41-21 (2019)
  • (1) An individual shall not do either of the following:

    • (a) Willfully and maliciously assault, beat, harass, injure, or attempt to assault, beat, harass or injure, a dog that he or she knows or has reason to believe is a guide or leader dog for a blind individual, a hearing dog for a deaf or audibly impaired individual, a service dog for a physically limited individual, or a support dog for a mobility impaired person as described in Sections 43-6-151 through 43-6-155.

    • (b) Willfully and maliciously impede or interfere with, or attempt to impede or interfere with, duties performed by a dog that he or she knows or has reason to believe is a guide or leader dog for a blind individual, a hearing dog for a deaf or audibly impaired individual, a service dog for a physically limited individual, or a support dog for a mobility impaired person as described in Sections 43-6-151 through 43-6-155.

  • (2) An individual who violates subsection (1) is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than ninety (90) days or a fine of not more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), or both.

  • (3) In a prosecution for a violation of subsection (1), evidence that the defendant initiated or continued conduct directed toward a dog described in subsection (1) after being requested to avoid or discontinue that conduct or similar conduct by a blind, deaf, audibly impaired, physically limited or mobility impaired individual being served or assisted by the dog shall give rise to a rebuttable presumption that the conduct was initiated or continued maliciously.

  • (4) A conviction and imposition of a sentence under this section does not prevent a conviction and imposition of a sentence under Section 97-41-16 pertaining to the offenses of simple or aggravated cruelty to a dog or cat, or any other applicable provision of law.

  • (5) As used in this section:

    • (a) “Audibly impaired” means the inability to hear air conduction thresholds at an average of forty (40) decibels or greater in the individual’s better ear.

    • (b) “Blind” means having a visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the individual’s better eye with correction, or having a limitation of the individual’s field of vision such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angular distance not greater than twenty (20) degrees.

    • (c) “Deaf” means the individual’s hearing is totally impaired or the individual’s hearing, with or without amplification, is so seriously impaired that the primary means of receiving spoken language is through other sensory input, including, but not limited to, lip reading, sign language, finger spelling or reading.

    • (d) “Harass” means to engage in any conduct directed toward a guide, leader, hearing or service dog that is likely to impede or interfere with the dog’s performance of its duties or that places the blind, deaf, audibly impaired or physically limited individual being served or assisted by the dog in danger of injury.

    • (e) “Injure” means to cause any physical injury to a dog described in subsection (1).

    • (f) “Maliciously” means any of the following:

      • (i) With intent to assault, beat, harass or injure a dog described in subsection (1).

      • (ii) With intent to impede or interfere with duties performed by a dog described in subsection (1).

      • (iii) With intent to disturb, endanger or cause emotional distress to a blind, deaf, audibly impaired or physically limited individual being served or assisted by a dog described in subsection (1).

      • (iv) With knowledge that the individual’s conduct will, or is likely to, harass or injure a dog described in subsection (1).

      • (v) With knowledge that the individual’s conduct will, or is likely to, impede or interfere with duties performed by a dog described in subsection (1).

      • (vi) With knowledge that the individual’s conduct will, or is likely to, disturb, endanger or cause emotional distress to a blind, deaf, audibly impaired or physically limited individual being served or assisted by a dog described in subsection (1).

    • (g) “Physically limited” means having limited ambulatory abilities and includes, but is not limited to, having a temporary or permanent impairment or condition that does one or more of the following:

      • (i) Causes the individual to use a wheelchair or walk with difficulty or insecurity.

      • (ii) Affects sight or hearing to the extent that an individual is insecure or exposed to danger.

      • (iii) Causes faulty coordination.

      • (iv) Reduces mobility, flexibility, coordination or perceptiveness.

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