Buddy’s Law, which requires that a child who injures a dog or cat be subjected to a psychological or psychiatric evaluation and counseling, has been signed by Governor Tate Reeves.
Inspiration for the bill came from Buddy, a dog who was severely burned by a 12-year-old in April 2021 and has made a full recovery.
The bill initially struggled to be discussed in the legislature with its first draft dying in the House at the beginning of March.
Later that month, the bill was amended into Senate Bill 2245, which mostly centered around the revision of sentencing options for the crime of voyeurism.
With the addition of a section for Buddy’s Law, SB 2245 included specific wording for what was categorized as mistreatment or intentional harm to a domesticated dog or cat, requiring the child to undergo “psychiatric evaluation and counseling or treatment for a length of time as prescribed by the youth court.”
Additional sections require that the parent or guardian pay the cost of any evaluation, counseling, and treatment that the child is sentenced to by the court.
Children who commit minor acts of harm to a dog or cat, however, will not be required to undergo a mental health evaluation unless determined otherwise by a judge.
The bill goes into effect on July 1, with the hopes that intervening in the extreme cases of animal abuse from children can prevent future instances of harm to pets.