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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Get the Facts from SD FACT

Create Felony Level Penalties in South Dakota for Malicious and Intentional Acts of Animal Cruelty
Malicious and intentional acts of animal cruelty against a dog, cat or horse should be a class 6 felony in South Dakota punishable by two years in prison or a $4,000 fine, or both. Passing felony animal cruelty laws for companion animals is a crucial step in deterring violent offenders, ensuring community safety, and protecting pets.

Forty-eight states have laws making certain types of animal cruelty a felony and only 2 states do not, South Dakota and North Dakota. 
  • In a survey of over 1,000 representative U.S. households, 85% of those responding thought it was either “very important” or “important” to protect animals from cruelty. (2006) 
  • In South Dakota state law, the same level of penalty applies whether someone neglects to provide adequate food for an animal or maliciously stabs, tortures and kills that animal.
  • Neighboring states have had these laws on the books for 10 to 20 years and these states still enjoying a viable Ag economy. The proposed language will exempt traditional Ag practices as well as hunting and fishing.
  • The table below compares SD’s current laws for torturing a pet to those in neighboring states (data gathered from Animal Legal Defense Fund, Pet, The HSUS, ASPCA, and official state statute websites).

Max Penalty
Max Fine
Max Jail Time
Future Pet Ownership
Year Enacted
Class D felony: 2nd offence
5 years
Mandatory for torturous acts
No specific provision
All vertebrates other than livestock, game, furbearer, fish, reptile, amphibian or nuisance wildlife
Felony:  1st offence
4 years
May order
May ban future ownership
All pets or companion animals
Class D felony: 1st offence
4 years
No specific provision
No specific provision
All vertebrates
Felony: 1st offence
2 years
No specific provision
May ban future ownership for term of sentence
All animals
Class IV felony: 1st offense
5 years
No specific provision
Shall ban future ownership for 5-15 years
All vertebrates except un-captured wild animals
Class 1 misdemeanor
1 year
No specific provision
No specific provision
All animals
Felony: 1st offence
2 years
No specific provision
May ban future ownership
All animals

South Dakotans want stronger penalties as our laws are outdated; advocates have been pushing for felony level penalties for the past 5 years.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 appropriate prison time, fines should be mandated and counseling offered for these violent offenders.
  • Acts of intentional cruelty are often some of the most disturbing and violent offences and should be considered signs of serious psychological problems.  People who abuse and kill animals are more likely to target human victims. 
  • 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)
  • Researchers found that there was animal abuse in 88% of families who were under State supervision due to the physical abuse of their children. (DeViney, Dickert & Lockwood, 1983)
  • Many times a parent or domestic partner who is abusive may kill, or threaten to kill, the household pets to intimidate family members into sexual abuse, to remain silent about previous or current abuse, or simply to psychologically torture the victims, flexing their "power". This is demonstrated in a current Mitchell case of a man accused of assaulting his daughter at gun point after killing   
                  her dog:
  • State and national surveys of domestic violence victims consistently find that as many as 71% of battered women report their partners threatened, or killed, the family pet. (Ascione, 1995)
Horrific acts of animal cruelty don't happen often but when they do, appropriate state laws should be in place to ensure the offenders get counseling (if appropriate) so they will not go on to harm humans.  Below find links to several recent and relevant cases: 
Brookings: Man attacks pet; kicking Chihuahua

Sioux Falls: Man kills 5 pound Chihuahua

Burbank: Dog Beaten to death with hammer

Fort Pierre: Man steals and tortures rodeo horse; Dually

Lead: Dog found shot; no charges pending until offender found

Yankton: Woman beats cat to death with hammer

Omaha, NE: Malicious cruelty doesn’t happen often but when it does it is important to have laws on the books

Jamestown, ND: Those on both sides of ND Measure 5 are working together

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