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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Never Give Up - Felony Animal Cruelty is Law in SD!

Today Governor Daugaard signed SB 46 into law, providing felony level penalties for the most egregious acts of animal cruelty. Animal abuse is a heinous crime but it can be much more than that. Sometimes it’s a sign that people are also being abused or soon will be. The proven link between animal cruelty and human violence is well documented, and passing SB 46 is a crucial step in deterring violent offenders, ensuring community safety, and protecting animals. 

As of July 1, prosecutors and judges in South Dakota will have tools they need to deal with the most malicious, willful and intentional acts of animal cruelty. We celebrate this milestone and thank you. After more than 5 years of discussing the issue and introducing legislation only to see it fail, we were able to sit down with other stakeholders and find a compromise.

As Winston Churchill said, “Never give up on something that you can't go a day without thinking about.” We’ve certainly seen more horrific cases of animal cruelty happen in our state and stuck in our minds. So today we honor the animals that motivated all of us to advocate and change South Dakota animal cruelty laws. Maysie, Buddy, Shy and countless others provided us with the determination to see it through. We are South Dakotans Fighting Animal Cruelty Together (SD FACT) and we did it!

Thank you to the South Dakota Legislators who supported SB 46 and Governor Daugaard for signing it into law. Most of all, we thank you, the South Dakota animal advocates who never gave up. It is a good day for animals in South Dakota when we know communities and animals are protected.





Saturday, January 4, 2014

Prepare to Advocate for SD Animals in 2014 - Cruelty Draft Update


The 2014 South Dakota Legislative Session begins in just ten days and it is time for us prepare to advocate for South Dakota animals. Please share SDFACT's update with your friends and family - it's time!  Are you familiar with the South Dakota Legislature’s new website? It is very user-friendly and you can easily access information during the upcoming session - find & email your legislators, read bills, and identify when committees meet. You can also use the E-Subscribe (My LRC) to track bills for yourself. Check it out!

After five years of advocating to change South Dakota’s animal cruelty code, SDFACT reached out to Senator Krebs at the conclusion of the 2013 legislative session. Krebs coordinated a meeting for us with the State Veterinarian and staff from the Department of Agriculture.  Throughout the year SDFACT volunteers worked with the State Veterinarian and representatives from the Animal Industry Board, Sherriff’s Association, States Attorneys Association, animal shelters, Ag entities, and other stakeholders to draft a bill that would make the most violent acts of animal cruelty a felony in South Dakota.

We just received this update on the SDCL 40-1 draft from State Veterinarian Dr. Oedekoven: “The Governor has approved the draft, with some minor revisions that do not change the intent of the bill.  The bill has been pre-filed with LRC and they are making their suggested edits, which I hope will be complete by late next week.  Sen. Krebs has agreed to have the bill introduced into the Senate Ag committee at her earliest convenience.”

While no action is needed at this time, we ask you to stand ready to contact your legislators in support of this important piece of legislation.  We’ll share the final draft, bill number and other information as it becomes available - follow us on Facebook or check our website! Thank you for your continued support of animals in South Dakota – 2014 is the year!

                                                   SDFACT…until felony animal cruelty legislation is law!



Wednesday, April 24, 2013

South Dakota - the only state in our nation without any felony penalties for malicious animal cruelty

bill providing new protections for North Dakota animals leaves South Dakota as the last remaining state in the nation without felony penalties for the worst acts of animal cruelty.

We must congratulate North Dakota animal advocates who have worked on this bill for many years and even battled big Ag in a ballot measure last fall. Today the North Dakota legislature passed a bill that
 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. SB 2211 also provides some minimum welfare standards for dogs and cats in high volume breeding operations. After a long session with many amendments and exemptions for usual and customary practices used in livestock production, animal racing, rodeos, hunting and fishing the Senate passed the bill 43-3 and the House voted 80-12. The North Dakota Governor is expected to sign SB 2211 later this week.

So what does this mean for our efforts to strengthen animal cruelty laws in South Dakota? Well we know Ag entities worked with animal advocates to create this bill that worked for everyone in North Dakota. That is our hope for the 2014 legislative session, because this isn’t about outside animal rights groups imposing their agenda on South Dakota. It is about providing prosecutors and judges with the option of stronger penalties in the most violent cases of animal cruelty to protect our pets and communities from these offenders.

SDFACT is doing our part. As highlighted in a recent article in the Tri State Neighbor, several of our volunteers will meet with Senator Krebs, the State Vet and staff from the Secretary of Ag's office next week. We are seeking their input on SB 171, the bill introduced by Senator Adelstein and Representative Hajek this session that would have made aggravated cruelty against dogs, cats and horses a class 6 felony. Although SB 171 excluded farming and ranching practices, Ag groups lobbied heavily against it, saying current animal abuse and cruelty statutes are adequate. The good news is that our bill is much simpler than the North Dakota version and we want to ensure it in no way affects South Dakota’s number one industry, agriculture.

So let’s not be discouraged, we know South Dakotans want stronger animal cruelty laws as outlined in a recent Aberdeen American News editorial. We ask all of our SDFACT followers to do their part in coming months – be a voice for animals. Comment on news articles or political blogs that discuss these efforts. Submit a letter to the editor in your local newspaper. Share information through social media and be prepared to engage with your elected officials as we work toward a felony animal cruelty bill in 2014. For more information on specific cases in South Dakota please scroll through our previous blog posts. We are excited about moving forward with this legislation and we’ll keep you posted. You are the voice for the animals of South Dakota!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

NORTH DAKOTA FRIENDS!


North Dakota friends! Urgent Action Required on Animal Cruelty Bill SB 2211 - COPY THIS TEXT AND SHARE! The House Ag Committee will make their recommendation on SB 2211 tomorrow morning (Friday, March 29). The sub-committee is recommending do pass with the addition of amendments that WEAKEN the bill. The proposed amendments from the Farm Bureau will remove third offense felony penalties in the neglect & abandonment section.

Please use the link below to contact all members of the House Ag Committee ASAP urging a do pass of the Senate version of SB 2211 with NO amendments because North Dakotans want what we were promised!Contact ND House Ag Committee

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Maysie's tragic story motivates animal advocates to change SD animal cruelty laws

In 2009 it was Maysie’s story that motivated SDFACT’s Shari Kosel to push for stronger animal cruelty laws in South Dakota. Maysie’s story, while tragic, may also motivate some of you to continue advocating for animals.

We share Maysie’s story in the words of her owner, Lois Grimsrud-Vig:

Our yellow lab puppy named Maysie filled a void in our lives and grew into a beautiful and loving companion. We realized she was something very special and spent hundreds of dollars having her trained professionally. Even the trainer fell in love with Maysie. She was so unique that when you said, "Smile Maysie", she would wrinkle her little snout and wag her tail. Our vet said he'd never seen a dog smile on command before. Maysie's only down fall was that she loved everyone and would go to anyone.
Ms. Maysie smiling on command.

One afternoon in 2009, I let Maysie outside to do her business but sadly she didn’t come back. Maysie was whistle-trained so I blew my whistle over and over, but no Maysie. We lived out in the country and drove around searching for her, blowing her whistle. Our neighbors helped and into the early morning hours we all looked for Maysie. My husband put on snowshoes and walked the mountain, fearing a coyote or mountain lion may had gotten her. Maysie had never taken off for more than an hour or two but soon hours turned into days.

I called all the veterinarian clinics in the Black Hills fearing she was stolen for a hunting dog and I put ads in newspapers from Aberdeen to Yankton and Spearfish to Sioux Falls offering a $500 reward if she was returned. We received numerous calls from all over the state but none were successful.  Days turned into weeks and we finally came to the conclusion that our Maysie was gone.

We prayed that who ever had her was taking care of her and would love her as much as we did. One month later we received a call from someone who said, "we think we found your dog in our shed".  The rest will haunt us forever.

Sadly, they found Maysie in what we considered a death chamber. To add a sadisic twist, the latch on the shed was securely fastened from the outside. According to the investigation report put together by the Lawrence County Sheriff's office, Maysie was kept alive in a cruel and neglected state for quite some time. When she was no longer able to move, the perpetrator moved her to that shed to die. The shed was on the Deer Mountain Ski Hill and it was locked from the outside...no windows, no way to get in unless she was put there. When we found Maysie she was so emaciated that you could see her ribs and hips. You could see she had scratched a rug that was in the shed into a pile to sleep on and you could see marks on the door where she tried to get out. The shed owner said he was in this shed just two weeks prior and it was empty. Trying to make sense of the situation, I asked a vet if Maysie could have survived that long with no food. The answer was yes, a healthy animal could live for as long as a month with only water. It is almost too much to comprehend that someone could be so cruel and heartless to any living thing – especially Maysie who probably went to them smiling and wagging her tail. We offered a $1,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the individual responsible for Maysie's death.

We cannot comprehend why anyone would do such a thing to a beautiful animal and the Sheriff never found any leads in the case. One cannot even imagine the pain and suffering Maysie endured. Perhaps most upsetting to us was the fact that even if the perpetrator was found, there would be no justice for Maysie under current South Dakota animal cruelty laws.  While cases like this don’t happen often – when people commit such evil acts against a pet, there should be stricter laws in place so prosecutors can properly deal with offenders. 

I hope by sharing Maysie’s story, other South Dakotans will understand why we need felony-level penalties for malicious and intentional acts of torture. People who commit these horrific acts could be a danger to the community and should receive a mental health evaluation and counseling so they will not later offend against humans. Please join me in supporting SB 171 to protect our pets and communities.  We offer a special thank you to Shari Kosel for leading this long and sometimes frustrating effort to change South Dakota animal cruelty laws in memory of Maysie and many others who have suffered needlessly.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Employee using state resources to take down SD animal advocates & SB 171

Today an article in the Mitchell Daily Republic described Jim Krantz’s efforts to spread a message in opposition to animal advocacy in South Dakota. Krantz is a cow/calf field specialist with South Dakota State University and recently made a presentation to the Mitchell Lions Club.

According to the article Krantz said “they think we need a felony penalty for that, and I’m not here to argue that.” Krantz goes on to say “he feels such changes should come from South Dakotans, not from the HSUS…”

Guess what Mr. Krantz… SB 171 was created by South Dakotans and is supported by South Dakotans. No national organization (not HSUS) is affiliated with this bill. It is also important to note all of SD’s neighboring states recognized the link between animal cruelty and human violence 10-20 years ago.  We believe it is time SD became the 49th state in the country with felony-level penalties to protect our pets and communities from violent offenders.  Mr. Krantz and his Ag groups would know this if they would respond to SDFACT’s invitations to discuss SB 171.

The bottom line is Ag entities have no intention of coming to the table with South Dakotans to pass meaningful laws.  Instead Mr. Krantz of South Dakota State University is wasting state resources to take down South Dakota animal advocates in order to block the passage of SB 171.  Join us in voicing our frustration by contacting South Dakota State University President David Chicoine to let him know you are a South Dakota taxpayer and believe Mr. Krantz’s efforts are a waste of state resources.

With individuals like Mr. Krantz labeling South Dakotans as extreme animal rights activists, you can bet our battle to pass SB 171 will be even more difficult. This misinformation continues to detract from the merits of the bill so it is even more important to let members of the Senate Ag Committee know SB 171 excludes hunting, fishing, trapping and animal agriculture and it protects pets and South Dakota communities from violent offenders.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Why are Ag entities for animal cruelty & when will they meet with SB 171 supporters?

“Monday, Ag United met with various industry groups to form a strategy for battling South Dakota Senate Bill 171, the animal cruelty legislation. The measure would up violations from a misdemeanor to a felony. 
Clear Lake area South Dakota pork producer and Ag United Board member Paul Brandt says they believe the present misdemeanor law is adequate.

Brandt says SB 171 backers are being influenced by HSUS and other activist groups whose goal is to eliminate animal agriculture.

He doesn’t think SB 171 supporters will be able to get their bill out of committee.  However, if they do, Ag United and others will join forces to defeat the bill in the full legislature.”

In reviewing this story, we were shocked by the constant misinformation presented.  SDFACT is an all-volunteer group of South Dakotans working to make South Dakota the 49th state in the country with felony-level penalties for the most malicious acts of cruelty against dogs, cats and horses. 

1)         Mr. Brandt is incorrect, current laws are not adequate unless you are for animal cruelty. He should read about recent South Dakota cases and explain how a slap on the wrist is appropriate for these violent acts.
2)         Ag United once claimed SDFACT was a front group for the HSUS and now they are claiming South Dakotans are “being influenced by HSUS and other activist groups whose goal is to eliminate animal agriculture”. We are smarter than that Mr. Brandt, we are South Dakotans who have been working to pass felony animal cruelty laws in SD for 5 years and we haven’t been influenced by any activist groups – we did our own research and know our pets and communities deserve this protection. This bill has nothing to do with animal agriculture, why do Ag entities care about SB 171?

3)         Ag United and Jim Krantz in the email string below claim they were not discussing SB 171 at their meeting on Monday, but Mr. Brandt via WNAX claims the meeting did happen.  Which is it and why won’t Ag entities come together with South Dakota animal advocates to pass a law that works for everyone?

From SDFACT volunteers:

Dear Mr. Dick:

Following up on the email we sent January 11, we are now asking for your organization’s support of SB 171.  We are volunteers with South Dakotans Fighting Animal Cruelty Together (SDFACT), a group of SD citizens working to make South Dakota the 49th state with felony level penalties for the most malicious acts of cruelty against dogs, cats and horses.

We assure you SDFACT is a grassroots movement to pass a 2013 felony companion animal cruelty law and nothing more. We have not received any financial assistance from the HSUS or any other national organization. We are not a front group for any animal rights group; we are South Dakotans looking to protect our pets and communities from violent offenders.

We wish to work with your organization to ensure SB 171 passes this session and does not threaten the livelihood of your members or animal agriculture in South Dakota. Can we speak at your meeting of agriculture groups on Monday in Pierre to discuss SB 171? Please help us pass a law that works for everyone in 2013.

Sincerely,

Sara Parker                         Shari Kosel
Sioux Falls, SD                    Lead, SD

From Steve Dick Ag United:

Ms. Parker & Ms.  Kosel,

The agenda for the meeting was set by Jim Krantz with SDSU Extension Service.  Jim can be reached at Jim.Krantz@sdstate.edu

Steve Dick
Ag United for South Dakota

From Jim Krantz:

Steve, Sara, Shari,

Our meeting is at 2:00 this afternoon and we would not deny anyone the right to attend. However, our agenda does not include a discussion of the bills you referenced. Also, there will may not be sufficient time for everyone, including those who previously committed, to speak as we have some presentations and a conference call on the agenda. There will be time for comments from those attending on the material presented. Please call me on my cell if you have questions. 480-1056. Thanks.

From SDFACT volunteers:

WNAX's website says that Mike Held stated "South Dakota ag groups will be getting together in Pierre on Monday to talk about SB 171."

Is there another time that works for us to meet?


Unfortunately we have not received any response from South Dakota Ag United or any other Ag entities they represent who oppose SB 171, even though it does not affect animal agriculture in South Dakota.  We’ve reached out for their support on numerous occasions, as have many of you. We even asked to attend their meeting on Monday to discuss SB 171.  It appears South Dakota Ag groups intend to defeat this bill. We don’t have a paid lobbyist, we are volunteers with full time jobs and can’t stand in the lobbies of every Ag group in the state and force them to meet with us. 

If you are one of the South Dakotans who says this is a common sense bill that should pass this session, you aren’t alone. Let’s hope South Dakota Legislators will see the merits of SB 171 and not allow misinformation from Ag entities that represent 18% of the South Dakota population.  Please make sure your voice has been heard by members of the Senate Ag Committee and urge them to send SB 171 to the Senate floor. Watch for SB 171 to be added to the committee agenda and attend the public hearing in Pierre to let legislators know South Dakotans want felony level penalties for malicious acts of animal cruelty to protect our pets and communities from violent offenders.