With no press or fanfare, the latest attempt by a Mississippi senator to increase penalties for aggravated animal cruelty died in committee. 

For years, we have railed against the toothless animal cruelty penalties in this state. We have seen some of the most depraved, sickening, heinous acts of shear cruelty shown toward domesticated animals. Some have been shot with arrows, chained to trees without food or water, been locked in a barn with the only food being the dead carcasses of animals who already had perished. Sick, sick stuff.

But we must wonder if Sheriff Alex Hodge and Southern Cross Animal Rescue’s raid on the property of an elderly couple in the Johnson Community played a role, in some form or another, in this current bill’s death. From Day 1, we have said that there is a great likelihood that the owners of that property were completely overwhelmed with an inability to say “no” when more and more people begged them to take their animals. One woman nearing her 70th birthday could not handle the volume of animals, many of them dumped on her by SCAR! That is not in question.

But aggravated abusers? Monsters so heinous that Hodge needed to have them arrested and paraded in front of TV cameras and strip-searched? No way.

Hodge saw this as an opportunity to be the one to finally getting the state Legislature to increase animal cruelty penalties. All one has to do is watch the sheriff’s Live SO from that day and listen to how desperately he wanted the story to “go national” and for this elderly couple to face felony charges. It probably is why he slammed his fist onto a table when Justice Court Judge Billie Graham released them on their own recognizance.

Hodge picked the wrong case to pin his felonious hopes on. The raid will have lasting effects on ever getting animal cruelty laws enhanced here. While those enhancements would benefit our society greatly by delivering meaningful consequences for the real abusers, it also would have ensnarled, among others, a Purple Heart recipient war hero and his aging, overwhelmed wife into a possible felony conviction and jail time.

That is unacceptable.

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