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Thursday, December 27, 2012

ALDF Ranks South Dakota One of the Worst States for Animals

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) announced the publication of the 2012 U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings Report. South Dakota has once again been ranked one of the worst states in the entire nation for animals. South Dakota & North Dakota are the only two states with no felony-level penalties for egregious acts of animal abuse. In addition to this, areas needing improvement include mandatory mental health evaluations or counseling for offenders and restrictions on future ownership of animals following a conviction.

The ALDF report is the longest-running and most authoritative report of its kind. The Rankings Report assesses the strength of each state’s animal protection laws by examining over 4,000 pages of statutes. Each jurisdiction receives a score based on fifteen different categories of animal protection. The Report also highlights the top, middle and bottom tiers of jurisdictions and notes the "Best Five" and "Worst Five" states.

South Dakotans Fighting Animal Cruelty Together (SDFACT)  is a local grassroots coalition advocating for felony animal cruelty laws for companion animals. The group is currently working on securing a 2013 bill sponsor for the most egregious acts of animal cruelty against a companion animal related to the safety of  our communities. Animal cruelty is a predictor and indicator of violent crimes, domestic violence and child abuse. In a 20 year study, 70% of animal abusers were found to have then committed other crimes and 44% went on to harm people. (Arluke, A. & Luke, C. 1997) Current penalties for starting a puppy on fire is the same as writing a bad check. An individual would receive a  stiffer penalty for stealing a painting of a dog than abusing the actual dog.

SD FACT volunteer, Sara Parker states “We’re providing the facts and we need all South Dakotans to advocate. All neighboring states, except North Dakota, have had these laws on the books for year and they still enjoy a strong ag economy. This is about offenders who intentional and maliciously abuse companion animals. It is just the simple. South Dakotans want stronger penalties as our current laws are outdated; advocates have been pushing for felony-level penalties for several years. There is a proven link between animal cruelty and human violence – acts of malicious and intentional cruelty against an animal should be taken seriously. The state should mandate mental health evaluations, counseling, fines and prison time as appropriate to each case.”  

To  join  the SD FACT mission efforts contact us at SDFACT@gmail.com or visit facebook.com/SDFACT and sdfact.blogspot.com.

To learn more about The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ADLF) rankings visit http://aldf.org/article.php?id=2269.

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