Animal cruelty: New bill falls short

Mississippi lawmakers have approved a strengthened animal abuse law, but it still falls short of penalties needed to curb and punish acts of extreme cruelty.

The bill, awaiting Gov. Haley Barbour’s signature, creates a new charge of aggravated cruelty for anyone who intentionally tortures, burns, starves or disfigures a dog or cat. The first offense is a misdemeanor. If another act occurs within five years, the person could be charged with a felony.

The bill doesn’t mention the word kill in its list of abuses. At least, a court can order restitution and require a psychiatric evaluation.

Clarion Ledger