Advocates working to prevent animal cruelty say Mississippi laws are too lenient.
This week the Humane Society of the United States flew 83 dogs and cats from Mississippi to shelters in Virginia for care and adoption. The move comes after complaints about conditions at the home of David and Mary Ellen Senne near Ellisville. They're charged with one count of aggravated cruelty to a dog or cat, which Mary Ellen Senne denied to the Associated Press. They're free without bail and face a $2500 fine and six months in jail. Jessica Johnson is with the humane society.
"Mississippi is one of only two states that don't have a felony level law. The residents in Mississippi need to change that. They're really far behind in animal cruelty laws. The rest of the state is stepping up," said Johnson.
Jones County Sheriff Alex Hodge agrees with Johnson. He says the animals were caged, malnourished with severe medical issues.
"Sadly, even after finding 17 dead animals in the freezer, in addition to all the conditions that we found that were again deplorable, all the provisions allowed was misdemeanor and I just think that's unacceptable," said Jones.
Debra Boswell with the Mississippi Animal Rescue League says, she lobbies state legislators for tougher laws.
"Some of the arguments that we hear from the legislators is that the courts aren't prosecuting to the fullest what's already on the books," said Boswell.
Montgomery Justice Court Judge Larry Bamberg is aware of the concern and says he gives the maximum allowed.
"I guess each judge depending on how they care about animals I guess that shades how they rule. But myself, I'm an animal advocate," said Bamberg
The next opportunity to change the law is in January when the state legislature reconvenes.