Victory: Buddy’s Law Finally Passes in Mississippi
Just a little over a year ago, a dog named Buddy was horrifically set on fire by a child in Tate County, Mississippi, and left to suffer. Thanks to the outrage that ensued, including from thousands of you who signed two of our alerts, the state passed Buddy’s Law, which will ensure children who torture animals receive counseling and treatment.
In April 2021, Buddy was found with an extension cord wrapped around his neck, and nearly his entire face burned. A 12-year-old confessed to the crime, but even though this would have been a felony punishable by up to three years in prison, under state law children under the age of 12 can’t be charged with a crime or evaluated.
Tate County Sheriff Brad Lance expressed frustration over the case, and the public backlash was swift and fierce. In January, Sen. Angela Hill introduced Buddy’s Law (SB 2261) to address the lack of accountability for underage abusers — more than 14,000 of you signed our alert supporting this bill.
After almost dying for the first time, it passed the Senate unopposed in February but died in March in the House Judiciary B Committee after Chairmen Rep. Nick Bain and members refused to push it to the floor for a vote.
While the news drew disappointment from animal and child advocates and a flurry of negative press, Buddy’s Law was ultimately attached to another bill (SB 2245), and passed. It was signed by Gov. Tate Reeves and goes into effect on July 1.
Under the new law, youth who harm dogs and cats will receive psychiatric evaluation or treatment prescribed by the court. Costs will be paid by parents, or by the state if offenders are a wards of the state, and parents will be held in contempt if they willfully refuse to follow recommendations handed down. Not only will this help children, but it may disrupt the cycles of abuse they are suffering themselves.
As for Buddy, he was taken in by the Tunica Humane Society and treated at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Mississippi State University. He had a long road to recovery to heal from his near-fatal injuries, but according to the Tunica Humane Society, he beat the odds and after 10 months in the hospital, in February he finally got to go home with the veterinarian who helped save his life, Dr. Betsy Swanson. His days are now spent like any other normal dog, and he spends his time, “Playing fetch, taking long walks, being spoiled for the awesome dog he is!”
While this was a horrible tragedy, Buddy’s case shined a bright light on animal cruelty and flaws in the system that should protect animals and hold abusers accountable. We’re thrilled with the outcome for Buddy and grateful to everyone who cared for him and for those who spoke out to change things for the better in the state.
To find out more about how you can get involved in protecting animals, visit our Justice for Animals campaign.