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South Dakota legislature approves felony animal cruelty measures

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One step closer to felony animal cruelty legislation in South Dakota, on Wednesday the House voted 54 to 15 to approve seeking penalties for egregious crimes against animals reported

In February, the South Dakota Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 46, making extreme acts of cruelty a Class 6 felony punishable by a maximum of two years in prison and a $4,000 fine.

At this time, even the worst acts of cruelty towards animals are punishable as misdemeanors.

South Dakota is the only state without a penalty for felony animal cruelty.

For the last five years, the agricultural communities have vehemently fought any legislation stating that acceptable livestock standards of management (ie. branding) would be considered the mistreatment of animals.

Animal advocates, welfare organizations, veterinarians, and representatives of the agricultural committees were finally able to come to a compromise which clarifies standard livestock treatment.

Although most animal advocates feel the legislation is too vague and "acts of malicious and intentional torture against animals" will be difficult to prosecute, everyone does agree it is a step in the right direction.

Governor Dennis Daugaard is expected to sign the bill into law.

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