Animal Welfare Laws - State of Mississippi

Mississippi Cruelty to Animals Statutes




97-41-1. Living creatures not to be cruelly treated.

If any person shall override, overdrive, overload, torture, torment, unjustifiably injure, deprive of necessary sustenance, food, or drink; or cruelly beat or needlessly mutilate; or cause or procure to be overridden, overdriven, overloaded, tortured, unjustifiably injured, tormented, or deprived of necessary sustenance, food or drink; or to be cruelly beaten or needlessly mutilated or killed, any living creature, every such offender shall, for every offense, be guilty of a misdemeanor.

97-41-2. Seizure of mistreated animal

(1) All courts in the State of Mississippi may order the seizure of an animal by a law enforcement agency, for its care and protection upon a finding of probable cause to believe said animal is being cruelly treated, neglected or abandoned. Such probable cause may be established upon sworn testimony of any person who has witnessed the condition of said animal. The court may appoint an animal control agency, agent of an animal shelter organization, veterinarian or other person as temporary custodian for the said animal, pending final disposition of the animal pursuant to this section. Such temporary custodian shall directly contract and be responsible for any care rendered to such animal, and may make arrangements for such care as may be necessary. Upon seizure of an animal, the law enforcement agency responsible for removal of the animal shall serve notice upon the owner of the animal, if possible, and shall also post prominently a notice to the owner or custodian to inform such person that the animal has been seized. Such process and notice shall contain a description of the animal seized, the date seized, the name of the law enforcement agency seizing the animal, the name of the temporary custodian, if known at the time, and shall be signed by the court issuing the order.

(2) Within five (5) days of seizure of an animal, the owner of the animal may request a hearing in the court ordering the animal to be seized to determine whether the owner is able to provide adequately for the animal and is fit to have custody of the animal. The court shall hold such hearing within fourteen (14) days of receiving such request. The hearing shall be concluded and the court order entered thereon within twenty-one (21) days after the hearing is commenced. Upon requesting a hearing, the owner shall have three (3) business days to post a bond or security with the court clerk in an amount determined by the court to be sufficient to repay all reasonable costs sufficient to provide for the animal's care. Failure to post such bond within three (3) days shall result in forfeiture of the animal to the court. If the temporary custodian has custody of the animal upon the expiration of the bond or security, the animal shall be forfeited to the court unless the court orders otherwise.

(3) In determining the owner's fitness to have custody of an animal, the court may consider, among other matters:

(a) Testimony from law enforcement officers, animal control officers, animal protection officials, and other witnesses as to the condition the animal was kept in by its owner or custodian.

(b) Testimony and evidence as to the type and amount of care provided to the animal by its owner or custodian.

(c) Expert testimony as to the proper and reasonable care of the same type of animal.

(d) Testimony from any witnesses as to prior treatment or condition of this or other animals in the same custody.

(e) Violations of laws relating to animal cruelty that the owner or custodian has been convicted of prior to the hearing.

(f) Any other evidence the court considers to be material or relevant.

(4) Upon proof of costs incurred as a result of the animal's seizure, including, but not limited to, animal medical and boarding, the court may order that the animal's owner reimburse the temporary custodian for such costs. A lien for authorized expenses is hereby created upon all animals seized under this section, and shall have priority to any other lien on such animal.

(5) If the court finds the owner of the animal is unable or unfit to adequately provide for the animal, or that the animal is severely injured, diseased, or suffering, and, therefore, not likely to recover, the court may order that the animal be permanently forfeited and released to an animal control agency, animal protection organization or to the appropriate entity to be euthanized or the court may order that such animal be sold at public sale in the manner now provided for judicial sales; any proceeds from such sale shall go first toward the payment of expenses and costs relating to the care and treatment of such animal, and any excess amount shall be paid to the owner of the animal.

(6) Upon notice and hearing as provided in this section, or as a part of any preceding conducted under the terms of this section, the court may order that other animals in the custody of the owner that were not seized be surrendered and further enjoin the owner from having custody of other animals in the future.

(7) If the court determines the owner is able to provide adequately for, and have custody of, the animal, the court shall order the animal be claimed and removed by the owner within seven (7) days after the date of the order.

(8) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent or otherwise interfere with a law enforcement officer's authority to seize an animal as evidence or require court action for the taking into custody and making proper disposition of animals as authorized in Sections 21-19-9 and 41-53-11.

(9) For the purposes of this section the term "animal" or "animals" means any feline, exotic animal, canine, horse, mule, jack or jennet.


97-41-3. Authority to kill injured, neglected, etc. animal.

Any sheriff, constable, policeman, or agent of a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals may kill, or cause to be killed, any animal found neglected or abandoned, if in the opinion of three respectable citizens it be injured or diseased past recovery, or by age has become useless.

97-41-5. Carrying creature in a cruel manner.

If any person shall carry, or cause to be carried by hand or in or upon any vehicle or other conveyance, any creature in a cruel or inhuman manner, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

97-41-7. Confining creatures without food or water.

If any person shall confine, or cause to be confined, in any stable, lot, or other place, any living creature, without supplying the same during such confinement with a sufficient quantity of good and wholesome food and water, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

97-41-9. Failure of owner or custodian to provide sustenance.

If any person be the owner or have the custody of any living creature and unjustifiably neglect or refuse to furnish it necessary sustenance, food, or drink, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

97-41-13. Penalty for violating certain sections.

Any person who shall violate any of sections 97-41-3 to 97-41-11, or section 97-27-7 on the subject of cruelty to animals shall, on conviction, be fined not less than ten dollars nor more than one hundred dollars, or shall be imprisoned in the county jail not less than ten days nor more than one hundred days or both.

97-41-15. Malicious or mischievous injury to livestock; penalty; restitution.

(1) Any person who shall maliciously, either out of a spirit of revenge or wanton cruelty, or who shall mischievously kill, maim or wound, or injure any livestock, or cause any person to do the same, shall be guilty of a felony and upon conviction, shall be committed to the custody of the State Department of Corrections for not less than twelve (12) months nor more than five years, and fined an amount not less than One Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($1,500.00), nor more than Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00).

(2) In addition to any such fine or imprisonment which may be imposed, the court shall order that restitution be made to the owner of any animal listed in subsection (1) of this section. The measure for restitution in money shall be the current replacement value of such loss and/or the actual veterinarian fees, special supplies, loss of income and other costs incurred as a result of actions in violation of subsection (1) of this section.

(3) For purposes of this section, the term "livestock" shall mean horses, cattle, swine, sheep and other domestic animals produced for profit.

97-41-17. Poisons; administering to animals.

Every person who shall wilfully and unlawfully administer any poison to any horse, mare, colt, mule, jack, jennet, cattle, deer, dog, hog, sheep, chicken, duck, goose, turkey, pea-fowl, guinea-fowl, or partridge, or shall maliciously expose any poison substance with intent that the same should be taken or swallowed by any horse, mare, colt, mule, jack, jennet, cattle, dog, hog, sheep, chicken, duck, goose, turkey, pea-fowl, guinea-fowl, or partridge, shall, upon conviction, be punished by imprisonment in the penitentiary not exceeding three years, or in the county jail not exceeding one year, and by a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars. 

Amended in 1997, 2001.
Reviewed by AAHS in September 2001.

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