JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Animal rights advocates criticized lawmakers this week for the House version of an animal cruelty bill. They say in some ways it weakens current animal cruelty laws and limits the weight of charges that can be filed against anyone mistreating animals.
Laurie Reynolds joined Fighting Animal Cruelty Together after her neighbor's puppies were poisoned. She's fearful the animal cruelty law being debated at the capitol won't be strong enough to stop crimes against animals.
"It weakens some of our animal cruelty laws we have," Reynolds said. "Multiple counts of animal cruelty is one offense. Poisoning is completely a misdemeanor, no matter how many times they did -- this it would be considered a simple offense, which means they would never have a chance of charging these people for a felony."
Lawmakers in the Senate say they've been in close contact with animal rights advocates and have full intentions of keeping the law as they presented it to the House.
"The proposed bill reverted back to a misdemeanor," said Sen. Gray Tollison (D-Oxford). "We want to make sure we keep the law as it is."
"If we don't get a decent animal cruelty bill passed this year, it's going to be really hard," said Reynolds. "It is an election year. The voters of Mississippi vote-in these officials that have the power to amend this bill and make it a stronger bill."
Lawmakers are optimistic they can get most of the bill passed. Other animal rights advocates say although it's not perfect, the bill will increase penalties for those who mistreat animals, and it can be tweaked after it's passed.
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