Rep. Bill Pigott, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee Credit: Gil Ford Photography

A slew of bills aiming to enhance the punishment for abusing cats and dogs in Mississippi died in committee Tuesday.

One bill in the Senate and two bills in the House of Representatives were each double referred by the leadership to their respective Agriculture and Judiciary committees, making chance of action less likely. None were brought forward by committee chairmen.

All three bills would have made aggravated abuse of dogs and cats a first-offense felony. Currently, conviction of abuse of cats and dogs in Mississippi is a misdemeanor.

In addition, law enforcement is only allowed to bring one count of simple or aggravated animal cruelty, regardless of the number of dogs or cats abused in the incident.

Tuesday was the deadline for bills to pass out of committee.

House Agriculture Chairman Rep. Bill Pigott, R-Tylertown, said he agrees with Farm Bureau, which has lobbied against any animal protection laws, that he would first like to see current laws enforced.

“Law enforcement in a lot of counties don’t have the manpower to enforce them, they don’t have the money to enforce the laws we got today,” he said on Tuesday.

He also said a conflict in scheduling meetings contributed to the bills not being taken up in committee.

“It’s just one of those things,” Pigott said.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Billy Hudson, R-Hattiesburg, also did not bring up a bill authored by Sen. Angela Hill, R-Picayune. This is Hill’s third session to bring forward such a bill.

Both the House and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairmen have ties to Farm Bureau. Pigott is former president of the Walthall County Farm Bureau. Farm Bureau commended both Pigott and Hudson for their roles in helping to defeat animal welfare legislation in 2016.

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Kate Royals is a Jackson native and returned to Mississippi Today as the lead education reporter after serving in the same capacity from 2016 to 2018. Prior to that, she was a reporter for the Clarion-Ledger covering education and state government. She won awards for her investigative work, including stories about the state’s campaign finance laws and prison system. She was a news producer at MassLive in Springfield, Mass., after graduating from Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communications with a master’s degree in communications.

30 replies on “Dog, cat protection bills stall in committee”

  1. You, Sir, and your cronie are idiots! How in your right mind could you not APPROVE these bills. You have given animal abusers free reign. How many animals will suffer and die because all of you did not give a damn! How many of these abusers will start with animal abuse and then progress to hurting or killing people. This is how it starts. I am furious and astpunded at your ignorance and stupidity.

    1. There are already plenty of enforceable laws on the books to jail anyone who blatantly harms just about any kind of animal! What the Animal Rights people want to push for are laws that create a burden on the court system and the animal owners. The AR’s have such vague ideas of exactly what constitutes abuse or neglect or the presumed INTENTION of it! By the standards that the AR’s want to enforce, almost every animal owner would be accused of some sort of neglect or abuse. Neither the Animal Rights groups or our law enforcement need to be involved in the micromanagement of citizens’ pets and animals! All that needs to be done is to enforce the laws that are already there!

      1. BS if the laws were tough enough we’d have a hell of a lot less cruelty and abuse. I never stated animals should be taken away from owners. I’m not for Peta who believes such nonsense. You assumed that. Read the article law enforcement cant enforce laws the way they are written. These bills would help stop abuse and put away abusers. Anyone who works in rescue with an animal medical background and sees the abuse firsthand would disagree. Vague, I’ve been completely clear. I’ve lived in the south animal abuse is rampant, no vaccines, very little spay neuter and that’s certainly not the worst. I also never said anything about affecting owners and their pets. Most pet owners are good people who would support laws convicting abusers, stopping the cruelty and getting abusers away from animals period.

        1. My statement never accused YOU of saying or believing anything. My statements are pointing out facts about the intent behind the Animal Rights groups – which are well documented. The INTENTIONAL harming, abuse or torture of any living creature for the pure evil of it IS HORRIBLE and there ARE laws that criminalize this behavior. What the Animal Rights groups are doing is using the very vague “standards” that they have set to define minimal care or handling as a basis for creating felons out of everyday animal owners. For Animal Rights groups it is NOT a matter of making punishment more severe for true animal abusers, it is making punishment more severe for EVERY case of “abuse” or “neglect” that THEY deem as such! They are trying to discourage the ownership of ALL animals in every capacity! Supporting laws and activities backed by AR’s can be a slippery slope. Look what it is doing to the circus, carriage horse and exhibition (ie: zoos, sanctuaries & aquariums) sectors of animal ownership!!!

          1. I looked up your profile and I have no time for someone who shoves her opinions down others throats, misreads misinterprets and mis communicates. Perhaps if you opened your mind and listened to others instead of assuming and internet yelling use of caps you would have a better chance of communication.

          2. Trolling? Really? I spend my time looking at facts and not chasing down individuals to spar with. We all have our causes and I recognize that some people are unreachable – perhaps you need to understand the same thing?

          3. I never said trolling and you do chase downs individuals to spar with which would be fine if you listened which you do not. You assume and you certainly are unreachable. You also twist words and their meaning to your own benefit. Causes are fine and debates are good BUT using your caps sparring partners need to listen, not assume and shove their causes down others throats. I’m done, no more communication from me.

          4. You will never get a bill to pass since the ones killing the bills are the ones shooting dogs and cats.

          5. So far, Julie, looks like you are in the minority. Perhaps we have “our causes” and they include making sure that people like you never have responsibility for a living, breathing being.

        2. Christine, you are absolutely right. i’m 1000% with you on this. Julie is in with the Farm Bureau and likely pocketing $ to spread their opinions and views.

        1. Touché!!! If the current court system cannot fairly apply, enforce and convict based on the laws that are now in effect, how will making the punishment worse going to make laws anymore effective?? What the Animal Rights groups are doing is making the laws much more difficult to interpret and setting up the courts to convict innocent animal owners and severely punish them for care that is defined as
          abusive by organizations that have no reasonable desire to allow animal ownership of ANY kind, for ANY reason.

    2. This is the very reason the FBI has begun to track abusers of animals. There are documented, undisputable correlations between animal abusers and serial killers.

  2. Finally! Government showing some common sense and favoring HUMAN rights and not the agenda of “humane” rights for pets and animals! Animals ARE important and they DO deserve to be kept in a manner that does not inflict intentional harm. BUT – the definition of “harm” and “neglect” has become horribly warped by the A$PCA, H$U$ & PeTA. These organizations, with very deep pockets because the funds they are gleaning from duped supporters are NOT being used to actually support animal welfare, are attacking every aspect of animal ownership and use. For them, the best kept animal is the one that does not exist AT ALL in human care! Thank you Mississippi lawmakers!

    1. Julie, I agree with your assessment of PETA and other organizations that pocket the money, do little or nothing for animals, and wait for the next disaster to launch yet another appeal for more money. And PETA in particular is an evil organization that kills cats and dogs to “protect” them.
      But surely there is some middle ground. We’ve seen horrible, brutal cases in which people have tortured dogs and cats. FBI profilers point out that this is how most serial killers and murderers get their start. It’s like riding a bike with training wheels in. They can practice and enjoy dousing a cat or dog with lighter fluid and setting it on fire, taping its legs together and bashing it against a wall, hanging it, strangling it, shooting it in the face, developing their skills to use against humans and knowing that if they are caught it’s only a misdemeanor.
      If someone is caught doing this shouldn’t they serve time and have a felony record? Jesus wept, writing bad checks is a felony. Selling pot is a felony.
      This isn’t about people who leave their dog tethered outside at night. It’s about catching evil in the act and stopping it before it becomes even worse.

      1. There are very explicit laws on the books (in most states) that deal with that kind of crime! What the Animal Rights groups are pushing for is an abuser list that would include folks who have been accused (and often never get a chance in court to prove innocence) of abuse, even if the animal that is claimed to have been abused shows no physical evidence of intentional harm (like finding a dog with matts in its fur and fleas – YES!!! People HAVE BEEN CHARGED with abuse because they have a dog that had mats and fleas!!!). Because animals come in all shapes and sizes, there is not a good description of what minimal or basic care should be for any given species – much less breed within a species. The animal rights groups take advantage of this and place their own interpretation of what neglect or abuse may be, creating a situation where many people or families would never be able to afford to keep any dog and could therefor be charged with a felony because some group said that the animal did not have sufficient exercise, warmth or nutrition. The worst part about this is that the people accused of abuse seldom have a fair chance to defend themselves in court because the Animal Rights groups have so much power and authority over the seizure of the animals BEFORE the owner has been able to get the animal examined by a non-biased professional! The animals are taken, altered and often rehomed BEFORE the accused has ever been granted a fair trial!!! Only in the mort egregious cases should any person be faced with FELONY charges and put on a list as an abuser! There is a BIG difference between someone who tortures an animal and someone who does not provide regular flea treatments or trips to a groomer. The bottom line is that PeTA and the H$U$ want to make animal ownership to difficult, expensive and risky for the majority of people to even keep a single pet per their standards.

        1. Fleas can cause anemia and eventually death from anemia if not treated, not to mention dirty, uncomfortable and cause tapeworms. Mats are painful and often pet must be sedated to shave severe matting. Sled dogs thrive, please read about Iditarod and see how rampant sled dog abuse is.

        2. Good lord. You are disgusting and despicable! you’re mad because they would likely implicate you in this type of abuse. Only evil (you) capable of this cruelty would slam this bill and call it ridiculous. Stop spewing out outrageously false statements. Nothing you said was accurate. No one goes to jail or has animals taken away for an ungroomed animal. This bill includes appropriate punishment for Aggravated abuse which is defined as intentionally maiming, mutilating, torturing, burning, scalding, suffocating, drowning or starving to death and disfiguring. You are a SICK and spineless disgrace to all sentient beings if you think this bill is ridiculous. If you post one more ridiculous and insane comment I’ll rally up peta supporters and put you in the doghouse. how do you like that? lets see how an acceptable form of treating animals will have you running to legislation to seek justice. you hypocrite rat.

    2. How would you feel if you were tethered outside in the cold, naked, with no food or water? You disgust me!!!!!!

      1. For a human, that would be insanely cruel. For any other animal, any or all of the above conditions would not constitute abuse or neglect – much less a felony!!! For every species and breed within a species, there is a wide range of acceptable ways to manage them. Example: sled dogs are tethered, in the cold, with minimal shelter and limited access to food & water, yet they THRIVE under that care! That same care would kill a guinea pig (extreme example) or a Chihuahua! Animal Rights groups do not make that distinction. That musher who owns those dogs would be convicted of a felony crime, if the AR’s had their way! People who cannot distinguish between human needs and what is HUMANE for animals disgust me! You cannot anthropomorphize animals! They are not human! However, there are some levels of handling that are OBVIOUSLY evil and those need to be punished. If the courts cannot get it right with the laws on the books now – the courts will only end up hurting or destroying more innocent animal owners with laws that come with very serious convictions!

        1. It is insanely cruel for pets and farm animals – anything domesticated – to be treated in such a manner. The fact that I DISGUST you because I believe in a different definition of Humane pleases me. You, because of your wanton disregard for these beings, disgust me. I repeat, if you think this is humane treatment, then please, come visit me and I shall treat you the same way. Of course, my pets will be inside with heat/air conditioning, untethered, with plenty of food and water, and lots of attention.

        1. Thank you for the heads’ up. I see she has already responded and I DISGUST her. Oh well, I will not stop. She has a somewhat valid point in how individual breeds respond to care and treatment; but across the board, I feel she is incorrect in her definition of HUMANE. I think her opinions lean toward inhumane. I can honestly say, I would NOT TRUST her with any breathing being.

  3. It is a shame that individuals cannot express their opinions without being attacked, personally, or debased by emotional, senseless people who know NOTHING about the people they are attacking. That sort of attack does NOTHING to support their side of the story and only discredits themselves. It does little good to attack someone personally simply for trying to tell the truth based on solid facts. I really do not care what people post about me, I care what harm senseless laws will do to the rights of animal ownership in the US. My feelings are not hurt and I am not offended as I know what kind of people behave and talk that way; they are unimportant to the topic. What is important is that these laws HURT innocent people, create a burden on the court system and do little to protect animals. This discussion should be about the laws and how they do or don’t protect animals and how these laws can be used to destroy human lives. Use of insults and profanity only proves the nature and moral of the person spewing the insults. Grow up! Support your opinion with facts not attacks. Unfortunately – personal attacks are exactly the way the AR’s are picking apart the rights of animal ownership. It is shameful. Sadly, this is the new acceptable behavior and form of debate and discussion expected and exampled by the new regime in the US. Pitiful 🙁

    1. I have made my point. I am done here. Others can continue to dump garbage on this issue and bury it with distractions. Making laws more extreme will not work if there is little enforcement of the current laws on the books. Our lawmakers need to provide more funding and manpower to enforce the laws that ARE there. Our lawmakers need to turn away from Animal Rights Groups that use emotional arguments to try to “shame” and coerce lawmakers into tougher – unenforceable – laws that can be used to hurt animal owners. If you do not agree – fine – live with it, or not. Done!

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