Animal cruelty, currently a misdemeanor, could become a felony in South Dakota under proposed legislation meant to “end years of debate on the subject by satisfying the concerns both of animal welfare groups and livestock producers,” according to State Veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven. The measure will be put forward when the state government begins its new session Jan. 14th.
Although the Legislature has repeatedly voted against animal cruelty measures due to pressure from livestock producers, “the proposal that state agriculture officials plan to present to the Legislature this year would make it a felony to commit malicious, intentional acts of torture or mutilation against animals, while also clarifying that standard accepted livestock-raising practices are not mistreatment,” Oedekoven stated.
If passed, “the bill would make intentional and malicious acts of torture or other cruelty a Class 6 felony, which carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $4,000 fine,” added said Mike Held of the South Dakota Farm Bureau.
At present, the most severe punishment is a maximum of up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.
Note: South Dakota is the only state that does not have any felony penalties for animal cruelty with the exception of dog fighting.