By Ashley Conroy
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - In a near unanimous vote on Thursday, the Mississippi State Senate passed a bill that would make animal cruelty in the state go from a misdemeanor to a felony.
A Rankin County family visited the senate chambers today to attend the hearing on animal cruelty. Their 14-month-old Labrador Retriever was deliberately shot by a hunter four days after Christmas.
They're hoping to share their story, so others will understand the importance of tougher animal cruelty laws in Mississippi.
"I can't even begin to fathom why somebody would do that. I mean it's not like he didn't know it was a dog. He admitted in his statement that he knew it was a dog," said Leigh Cochran.
Meanwhile, state lawmakers agree that a change in these laws needs to be addressed.
"And I think it's a good piece of legislation. You know, we're one of four states that doesn't have a felony animal cruelty law, and I think it's time that we change that," said Senator Gray Tollison of Oxford.
Senate Bill 2623 would make animal cruelty towards cats and dogs a felony. It states if anyone were to maliciously harm, torture, purposely starve, or kill a cat or dog without it being an act of self defense, then the following charges could apply: up to five years in prison and up to a ten thousand dollar fine.
Mississippi is one of only four states in the nation, other than North Dakota, South Dakota, and Idaho, to have misdemeanor animal cruelty charges.
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