The North Dakota legislature has passed S.B. 2211, a bill that establishes some felony-level penalties for incidents of malicious animal cruelty within the state.
The passage is a huge victory for animal welfare advocates everywhere, and especially good news to the thousands of Care2 community members who signed this petition asking North Dakota to classify animal cruelty as a felony rather than a low-level misdemeanor.
According to the North Dakota Humane Society:
S.B. 2211 establishes first-offense felony penalties for malicious acts of cruelty toward all animals and third-offense felony penalties for repeat offenders of lesser acts of abuse. The Senate-passed bill originally included third-offense felony penalties for repeat acts of neglect, but the House stripped that provision from the bill, which now treats neglect only as a misdemeanor, regardless of how many times it occurs. S.B. 2211 also provides some minimum welfare standards for dogs and cats in high volume breeding operations, which The HSUS supports.
“This is a step in the right direction for North Dakota’s animals, but it’s disappointing that the bill was watered down from its original version and falls short of what voters were promised,” said Karen Thunshelle, North Dakota state director for the Humane Society of the United States. “Every major newspaper in the state called on lawmakers to honor their word, but the Farm Bureau and agribusiness groups worked to scuttle it and weaken the law.”
The Senate passed the bill 43-3. The House voted 80-12. The bill now goes to the desk of Governor Governor Dalrymple to be signed into law. When that happens, South Dakota will be the only remaining U.S. state without a felony animal cruelty provision on the law books.
I’ve always been baffled by those who perpetrate malicious cruelty against animals. It takes so much time and effort to mistreat an animal, when they could be loved and enjoyed, or at least turned over to someone who would do so willingly. Congratulations to the HSUS, the citizens of North Dakota and the members of the Care2 community who took the time to start and sign the petition. Keep fighting the good fight.
Image via Thinkstock
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