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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Forty-eight States Already Have Felony Animal Cruelty Laws

We are always surprised to hear so many South Dakotans do not know we are one of only two states without felony level penalties for the most malicious acts of animal cruelty.

Cases like the Burbank man who beat his neighbor's dog to death with a hammer don't happen here very often. When they do South Dakota needs a law on the books to ensure violent offenders receive a punishment that equates to more than that of a traffic ticket.

South Dakotans do care about pets and the safety of our communities. There is a proven link between animal abuse and family violence. Our neighboring states were progressive in addressing this link years ago. Most have had felony animal cruelty laws in place for 10-20 years.

So why would South Dakota be the last? We are often outraged by random acts of violence and we pride ourselves on helping others. South Dakota communities come together to protect children and families from abuse, we generously donate to organizations dedicated to helping the less fortunate, and we enjoy a great quality of life.

With agriculture being the number one industry in South Dakota we also take great pride in our farmers and ranchers who drive a strong economy and are good stewards of the land and animals in their care. This is also reflected in the manner with which we treat our pets. A felony animal cruelty law is not about animal rights, it is about preserving the safety of our communities from violent offenders and protecting our companion animals.  The very dogs, cats and horses we committed to care for when we adopted or purchased them.

That is why it is particularly disturbing our current laws don't reflect our South Dakota pride. Let's work together to make South Dakota the forty-ninth state with felony level penalties for the most malicious acts of animal cruelty. If you agree, please contact your legislators and ask them to make this a priority during the 2013 South Dakota Legislative Session.

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