Senate Bill 2211 passed unanimously in Bismarck on Friday which is designed to increase penalties for animal abuse, neglect and abandonment. Now only a misdemeanor, the new legislation will make animal cruelty an automatic felony if a third offense takes place within ten years.
The bill heads to the House of Representatives, and if passed North Dakota will become the 49th state to pass felony animal cruelty penalties.
Sponsored by Sen. Tim Flakoll, (R-Fargo) neglect, abuse, and abandonment will be charged as misdemeanors for the first and second offenses, however prosecutors will have the discretion to charge someone with felony animal cruelty in cases of egregious mistreatment and to decide if it is neglect or animal abuse. A first offense felony could be charged only in cases where a person willfully commits animal cruelty.
According to inforum.com, the amended bill limits "band, flock, herd, litter, pack or other collective of same species animals" as singular incidents or to be charged as a single offense.
In a recent egregious case in Morton and Burleigh counties, 100 horses died from neglect while another 150 horses suffered as a result of their owners' neglect.
The North Dakotans to Stop Animal Cruelty are encouraged by the legislation, but hope the House of Representatives will close some of the loopholes which could allow animal abusers to slip by the law. There are currently no provisions for cruelly and neglect for puppy mills and large scale breeders since breeding or training animals would be exempt.
The North Dakotans to Stop Animal Cruelty is a coalition of animal shelters, veterinarians, animal control officers and concerned citizens who support reasonable animal cruelty laws to protect all animals of North Dakota.
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