Cat lovers everywhere won’t soon forget the horrific incident last month when Jody Cothron, 39, entered the Brookhaven Animal Rescue League shelter and allegedly brutally beat one of the resident rescue cats, Tilly, with a stick. Tilly was beaten so badly that she died as a result of her injuries.
Court clerk Kathy Allen said Cothron, who is charged with aggravated animal cruelty in connection to the assault, informed Judge Brad Boerner that he would obtain legal counsel. A trial date has been set for June 28. If Cothron is charged under the Mississippi Dog and Cat Protection Law, MSSS 97-41-16 b, the maximum fine is just $2,500, and a six-month jail term.
The incident has animal rights groups in Mississippi calling for much stricter animal welfare laws. Activists from In Defense of Animals held a candlelight vigil on Tuesday evening in support of Tilly, and to demonstrate to legislators that Mississippians will not stand by and see crimes against animals treated with indifference.
“Crimes like these are a perversion of our legal responsibility to protect and care for our animal companions. This hideous incident has outraged and disgusted Mississippians,” said Doll Stanley, In Defense of Animals’ Justice for Animals Director who organized the vigil for Tilly.
Mississippi humane organizations are determined in urging legislators to increase the penalties for the gross neglect of animals and egregious acts of violence to animals. In Defense of Animals and the Tupelo-Lee Humane Society held a vigil in Houston on April 13 for Champ, a Houlka, MS dog who was dragged by the neck behind a pickup while the crime was videoed. 68 Mississippians and abuse survivor Champ attended the vigil, yet the perpetrator of this horrific crime was fined just $1,000.
In the 2016 legislative session, a bill went before the Mississippi House of Representatives Agriculture Committee that would have made aggravated animal cruelty a first offense felony crime. However, SB2174 was “killed” after the Mississippi Farm Bureau took a direct aim at it.