Animal abuse laws need to be stronger

Published 12:29 am Sunday, May 14, 2017

The images were disturbing — a dog with its ears chewed off and obvious scars on other parts of its body.

Adams County Sheriff’s Office deputies came upon this scene last week after receiving an anonymous tip that led them to what appears to have been a dog-fighting ring.

One man was arrested and more than a dozen dogs confiscated on the scene.

Email newsletter signup

Under our system of government the accused is innocent until proven guilty. The same man, however, was charged with a similar violation a year earlier when images allegedly showing him holding up animals in an inhumane manner circulated on social media.

He was found not guilty of those charges in Natchez Municipal Court last year.

The current charges appear to be more severe and the evidence, it would seem, more damning. But that must be handled in a court of law.

What such cases — and the horribly cruel treatment apparently inflicted on innocent animals — should do, however, is cause us to have a discussion about increasing the penalties in such cases.

Only a few short years ago, Mississippi changed its then antiquated laws to put more serious penalty behind a cruelty to animals charge.

While dogs are not people, a person who finds no problem with inflicting pain on a dog or cat is not terribly removed from feeling comfortable doing the same things to a person.

Mississippi has improved the penalties, however, we feel they should be doubled again. If a person is found guilty of abusing an animal, they should spend at least a year in prison, as a mandatory sentence.

Currently, a maximum of six months in prison is an option, but not mandatory, for first-time animal abusers.