Rabies is not a problem Mississippi has to deal with right now. There have been no reported infections in years, but local officials say it may be just a matter of time.
The disease has already been seen in animals in Alabama. For that reason, the county has decided to up the penalties for not having your dog or cat properly vaccinated.
The Board of Supervisors made that decision Monday night.
County officials say making sure pets are protected against rabies is vital incase it does show up in this area.
"We've seen rabies just across the stateline from Wayne County last year," said Dewayne Sosebee of Lauderdale County Animal Control. "A couple of years ago, it was in Mobile County. It's coming."
New fines are a part of the counties’ broader statute on animal cruelty. If you are found to have a dog without updated rabies vaccinations, you may be fined:
1st offense - $100-200
2nd offense - $300-500
3rd offense - $500-1000 plus jail time
A judge must determine what punishment violators will receive.
The new rules go into effect immediately. They were adopted at the request of the state Department of Health.