Historic Law to Protect Dogs and Cats from Animal Cruelty in Mississippi Signed by Gov. Reeves

Historic Law to Protect Dogs and Cats from Animal Cruelty in Mississippi Signed by Gov. Reeves

*This news release was updated on July 2 after Gov Reeves enacted the new law


Jackson, MS (July 2, 2020) – In Defense of Animals, the international animal protection organization that operates Hope Animal Sanctuary and the Justice for Animals Campaign in Carroll County, is applauding Gov. Tate Reeves for signing SB 2658 into law. This long-awaited legislation increases penalties for animal cruelty in Mississippi and goes into effect immediately.


“For too long, criminals have been getting away with a slap on the wrist for some of the most heinous acts of cruelty imaginable,” said Doll Stanley, In Defense of Animals’ Justice for Animals Campaign Director. “Now Mississippi finally has an animal cruelty law with teeth that gives law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges the authority to hold animal abusers accountable for their unspeakable acts of cruelty.”


SB 2658, introduced by Sen. Angela Hill, amends the Mississippi Dog and Cat Protection Law of 2011 to increase penalties for animal cruelty. Previously, those convicted under this law only faced a felony charge if they committed a second offense within five years of a first conviction.


This statute also only allowed a single charge of cruelty, regardless of how many individual dogs or cats were involved in a single incident.

In Defense of Animals’ Justice for Animals Campaign has served animals and communities in the Deep South for nearly three decades, and has seen firsthand the devastation of weak animal protection laws. Not only are victims left without justice, but animal abusers get away with little to no punishment.

(Left) Phoenix was badly burned and abandoned on a deserted road. Hope Animal Sanctuary cared for her and she was adopted by a loving guardian. (Right) This cat was tethered at a residence where dozens of animals were being kept in deplorable conditions. Credit: In Defense of Animals 

The passage of this law makes aggravated animal cruelty a first-offense felony, and charges can be filed for each dog and cat who is harmed per incident. Penalties for a second felony offense have been doubled. Formerly, animal abusers convicted of a second felony within five years faced a fine of up to $5,000 and up to five years in prison. Now they will face a fine of up to $10,000 and up to 10 years in prison, or both, for a second offense.


“This is a monumental and much-needed change to the state’s animal protection laws,” said Stanley. “The link between animal cruelty and other criminal activity is well established. This new law will protect both animals and citizens throughout Mississippi, and bring justice for innocent victims. We are grateful to Sen. Hill for her determination to see this bill passed, to lawmakers who supported it, and to Gov. Reeves for signing it.”

In Defense of Animals will present awards to the legislators in the coming weeks.

In Defense of Animals has served in Mississippi for 27 years. Its Justice for Animals Campaign has championed tougher animal protection laws and has served to educate and assist law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges in areas of animal law and cruelty investigation, in addition to connecting them with the resources to aid with or prevent cruelty cases.


Contact: Doll Stanley,, (662) 809-4483 

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In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization with over 250,000 supporters and a 37-year history of protecting animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats through education, campaigns, and hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi.