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During the 2010 session of the Mississippi legislature, Senator Billy Hewes (R-Gulfport) introduced Senate Bill No. 2623 which, inter alia, made it a felony to "with malice torture, mutilate, maim, burn, starve, disfigure or kill any domesticated dog or cat." The penalty for a conviction under the proposed companion animal statute was one to five years in prison and a fine of $1500 to $10,000. Senate Bill No. 2623 passed the Senate but failed in the House, largely because the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation argued that it would be harmful to Mississippi's farming industry. This objection, along with the others that doomed Senate Bill No. 2623, reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the purposes of animal cruelty laws and, in particular, the crucial role that a felony penalty for malicious cruelty to cats and dogs could play in protecting all Mississippians. Thus, the goal of this Article is to demonstrate that the objections to Senate Bill No. 2623 were meritless and explain why Mississippi should enact a felony companion animal statute as well as other key provisions of Senate Bill No. 2623.

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