Animal Advocates for PRC rally for tougher laws

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Several organizations are rallying for stricter animal abuse laws.
These groups of like-minded people want to see animals treated with more respect, and want to see the laws currently in place strengthened.
Animal Advocates of PRC was founded in March of this year, and currently has 61 members. Their goal is to educate the public on current animal abuse laws and raise funds to help protect and care for animals rescued from from abusive or negligent homes, said president Bobbie Schute.
The group has monthly meetings where they discuss how they will lobby the legislature for stricter laws, organize fund raisers like Saturday’s pancake breakfast and hold silent auctions such as the most recent held by the Pearl River County Board of Realtors, Schute said.
So far the organization has been able to raise about $3,000 from the silent auction and the pancake breakfast. Schute said most of that money was raised during the board of realtors silent auction, with the remainder collected during Saturday’s pancake breakfast.
Animal Advocates for PRC secretary Brenda Nirenberg said the group is also working towards holding programs at the schools, which will be paid for by the fundraisers. Schute said these programs will help teach children about animal neglect and abuse. Schute feels that if children are taught about abuse and neglect, it will help create an informed population and thereby reduce the number of incidents as the children become adults.
Other plans for the funds collected include helping prepare foster homes to provide the proper level of care, such as providing dog houses, training and fenced in yards where necessary.
Mississippi law needs to clarify some of the animal abuse laws. While the law states animals should be provided with food, water and adequate shelter, it fails to properly describe what adequate shelter is, Schute said.
Nirenberg feels adequate shelter is more than just a plastic barrel turned on its side; it should contain three walls, a roof, floor and be off the ground. She would also like to work towards limiting the amount of time dogs are kept on a chain and ensure the food they are provided is not moldy or rotting scraps.
Schute said the vague nature of the shelter law creates a lack of consistency in its enforcement.
The aim of the group is not to target those who raise livestock, but to protect pets such as dogs, cats and horses, Schute said.
So far the group has been able to work with the Humane Society of the United States to provide local law enforcement officers with training to help them identify the signs of dog fighting and other abuses. That training provided the officers with free continuing education credits, Schute said.
Members of Animal Advocates of PRC also received training on how they can assist law enforcement in finding and reporting incidents while abiding by the law themselves.
Anyone interested in becoming a member of Animal Advocates of PRC can contact Schute at 601-463-0174 or Martha Ford at 601-590-2988.

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