A new law has made its way to the Mississippi law books, “Buddy’s Law”. The law was named after a dog who survived being set ablaze by a 12-year-old boy. The law will introduce new requirements to juvenile court for youths charged with the harm of a domesticated dog or cat.
Buddy, a Labrador retriever mix, was severely burned in April 2021 and went through treatments at clinics in the Southaven area, but ultimately the Tunica Humane Society and their attending veterinarian made the decision to transfer him to the MSU CVM for advanced, around-the-clock care.
Buddy was found on Apr. 22, 2021, with an extension cord wrapped around his neck and severe burns covering his face. The Tate County Sheriff’s Office said that a juvenile under the age of 12 did confess to purposefully setting the dog on fire, but that state laws prevent them from filing criminal charges.
“While this terrible act is a felony crime punishable by up to 3 years in prison, under Mississippi law no person under the age of 12 can be charged with a crime,” Tate County Sheriff Brad Lance told WAPT.
News of Buddy’s case went viral on social media, causing an outcry for justice and also generating donations that made Buddy’s care possible.
“Our investigators worked hard on this case and they also are frustrated. We didn’t write the laws of our state. We have exercised every available option under the law,” Sheriff Lance wrote on Facebook. “If this offender had been an adult, they would be sitting in jail facing up to three years in state prison and I would be able to release almost every detail of the case. While I can tell everyone that things are being done regarding this juvenile, I am prohibited from releasing details.”
On Thursday, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves signed Senate Bill 2245, “Buddy’s Law”. The new law will require the youth court to order a psychiatric evaluation if a child is charged with “the intentional torturing, mutilating, maiming, burning, starving to death, crushing, disfiguring, drowning, suffocating or impaling of a domesticated dog or cat.”
The new law will also require any treatment, evaluation or counseling be paid for by the offender’s parent or guardian. The state will pay the cost if the child is a ward of the state.