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South Dakota State Senate unanimously approves felony animal cruelty bill

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In Pierre, S.D. the state Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 46, felony animal cruelty legislation for acts of malicious, and intentional torture against animals reported Thursday's Rapid City Journal.

South Dakota is the only state in the union without a felony animal cruelty penalty. At the present time, acts of animal cruelty are considered misdemeanors; punishable by a maximum one year prison term and a $2,000 fine.

The new legislation will make extreme acts of cruelty a Class 6 felony, punishable by a maximum of two years in prison and a $4,000 fine.

The debate to make animal cruelty a felony has been rife in arguments for the past five years with the agricultural industry, however the new legislation clarifies standard livestock treatment as acceptable practices as in branding cattle and would not be considered mistreatment.

An important participant, State Veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven, has worked with humane advocates and the agricultural community to agree on a compromise.

According to the Argus Leader, Sen. Larry Lucas, D-Mission stated:

“Individuals that would do a malicious act against an animal obviously may have that same type of evil thoughts in their mind against humans."

While many humane advocates see the legislation as too weak, most people agree it is a step in the right direction and will address the issues of egregious abuse and cruelty done to the animals of South Dakota.

The legislation now moves to the House Ag Committee and onto the House floor.

Follow the progress of the Bill by clicking here.

To get involved, please follow the SD FACT South Dakotans Fighting Animal Cruelty Together by clicking here.

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