The Mississippi Legislature finally has moved the state into step with most of the rest of the country on the issue of committing terrible abuses against dogs and cats.
How it could have taken this long is beyond comprehension. But it has.
According to The Human Society of the United States, Mississippi is one of only four states in the country that does not have a felony penalty for egregious acts of animal cruelty.
When the governor signs the bill, the list will be down to three. Unfortunately, the legislation is still weaker than that in most other states.
The first offense for various acts including intentionally torturing, maiming or burning a cat or dog would still be a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $2,500 and up to six months in jail. A second offense would be a felony, with up to a $5,000 fine, five years in prison or both.
In the past, the politically powerful Missouri Farm Bureau Federation and other groups had lobbied against the bill, but this year the groups agreed to the compromise second-offense plan.
We support making abuse of dogs and cats a felony on the first offense, but the compromise bill is certainly better than we have now.
Gov. Haley Barbour is expected to sign the legislation into law. Then next year the legislature should move ahead with making the first offense a felony.