Get updates via email

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Urge South Dakota Legislators to Enact SB 157

A bill to establish basic standards of care for commercial breeding operations

For more than 3 years our SDFACT supporters have been asking us to work on a bill to address the cruelties of South Dakota puppy mills. In researching the issue in South Dakota, we identified the need for basic standards of care to be outlined in state law. Standards will assist law enforcement when investigating these troublesome large scale commercial breeding operations and also provide protections for responsible dog and cat breeders in our state.

According to the federal website, South Dakota has 43 USDA Class A Breeders, the 11th most in the country. Additional large scale commercial breeding operations not licensed with the USDA also exist.  Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture licenses and inspects large scale commercial breeding operations that sell to pet stores, the USDA’s own Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report confirming that USDA inspectors regularly ignore horrific suffering at commercial dog breeding facilities and allow the facilities to continue to operate, unimpeded, despite repeated violations of the Federal Animal Welfare Act.  The USDA admits that its laws are not humane standards, but merely survival standards and that a USDA license is not a seal of approval.

While SB 157 does not implement a state licensing and inspection program common in other states, it does address the immediate need of humane officers and sheriff’s deputies tasked with investigating commercial breeding operation complaints. Currently state law provides no standards of care, only a definition of a commercial breeding operation and the guidelines for investigating such operations. This section of code was revised more than 10 years ago through a joint effort of South Dakota breeders and animal shelters. 

SB 157 simply adds a few basic standards of care to this existing section. The bill will require primary enclosures to have solid flooring to protect the dogs’ feet and legs from injury; primary enclosures to be placed no higher than forty-two inches above the floor and cannot be stacked on top of other cages. A written program of veterinary care including a vaccination schedule, practices for disease control and prevention and an annual physical examination by a licensed veterinarian.

Many animal protection organizations would like South Dakota’s Department of Agriculture to implement a state licensing and inspection program but many breeders argue state inspections are not needed. SB 157 truly represents a compromise and it is a solution SD FACT supports. We urge South Dakota Legislators to enact SB 157. This bill will provide basic standards of care for law enforcement investigating complaints and also enhance the quality of life for dogs and cats living in the large scale commercial breeding operations of South Dakota. #MakeSDPuppyMillsMoreHumane  #SDFACTPAC

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Welcome to the new SD FACT - new logo + new mission

Today felony animal cruelty became law in South Dakota. SD FACT worked hard during the 89th legislative session to pass SB 46 which provided prosecutors and judges with the tools they need when dealing with violent offenders against animals. A survey of pet-owning families with substantiated child abuse and neglect found that animals were abused in 88 percent of homes where child physical abuse was present (DeViney, Dickert, & Lockwood, 1983). A study of women seeking shelter at a safe house showed that 71 percent of those having pets affirmed that their partner had threatened, hurt or killed their companion animals, and 32 percent of mothers reported that their children had hurt or killed their pets (Ascione, 1998). Still another study showed that violent offenders incarcerated in a maximum security prison were significantly more likely than nonviolent offenders to have committed childhood acts of cruelty toward pets (Merz-Perez, Heide, & Silverman, 2001).

A correlation between animal abuse, family violence and other forms of community violence is proven and as of today all 50 states now have felony provisions for the worst forms of animal cruelty. In South Dakota, the most egregious acts of cruelty against any animal can now be considered a felony which not only protects animals but also our communities from violent offenders.

While we celebrate this monumental accomplishment in South Dakota, SD FACT knows it is even more important for animal protection advocates to engage in the legislative process. When lawmakers stand up for animals, we must stand up for them. So today we launch SD FACT’s new logo and mission… to advocate for the protection and humane treatment of animals in South Dakota. We support candidates and incumbents who align with these values. We advocate for humane legislation, oppose inhumane legislation, and educate the public on issues that affect animals in our Statehouse.

SD FACT is an all-volunteer, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, incorporated by the state, and we are registered as Political Action Committee (PAC) in South Dakota. We operate as the political arm of the animal protection movement in South Dakota. SD FACT supports democrats, republicans, and independents based on their support of animal protection. We organize and mobilize volunteers in regions throughout South Dakota supporting humane-minded candidates. We raise money from compassionate citizens to donate to various campaigns at the state level.  When lawmakers stand up for animals, we must stand up for them. We want lawmakers in office who develop and maintain laws that protect animals.  SD FACT is the only organization in the state that can influence elections for animal protection, this is referred to electioneering. Local shelters and other non-profits can lobby but they cannot influence elections. They cannot endorse candidates, organize volunteers or raise money for humane candidates because of their 501(c)(3) tax designation. Therefore, contributions to SD FACT do not qualify as charitable contributions for federal tax purposes.

We work strategically in the South Dakota political arena to help animals, by:

• Tracking the issues that affect animals
• Surveying South Dakota candidates for elected office
• Prioritizing and developing positions on proposed legislation
• Meeting with South Dakota elected officials
• Organizing grassroots legislative networks through a network of volunteer Community  Coordinators
• Mobilizing SD FACT members to communicate with legislators
• Publishing an annual SD Humane Scorecard on incumbents’ voting records
• Keeping our members informed through periodic updates
• Educating South Dakota citizens and their elected representatives on how the choices we make through our the legislature impact the humane treatment of animals
• Utilizing news and social media to promote animal welfare issues in South Dakota

SD FACT is an all-volunteer organization and so volunteers are the life blood of our organization.  There are so many ways you can help.  Volunteer duties include: talking with registered voters about animal welfare issues, organizing petition-teams, lobbying at the State Capitol, organizing fundraising events, outreach at festivals and fairs, handing out information fliers, or become a Community Coordinator helping us organize door knocking, phone banking and education. 

Visit our website at to learn more, make a contribution and join our effort because when lawmakers stand up for animals, we must stand up for them.

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! 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 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.