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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

This type of animal cruelty does happen in SD; ask Harley

For the last few years animal advocates have been asking the South Dakota Legislature to make the most malicious acts of animal cruelty a felony meanwhile forty-eight other states already have felony laws in place. One myth promoted by opponents is 'that type of animal cruelty just doesn't happen in South Dakota'.

Unfortunately on occasion it does. Janet Meyer of Brookings is fighting for justice for Harley, her 13 year old Chihuahua.  According to Meyer, on the evening of Saturday October 27 Harley was viciously attacked and kicked in the head sending him flying across Meyer's yard. Harley was immediately knocked unconscious and stopped breathing. "I thought he was dead," said Meyer, "he did not resume breathing for an agonizingly long period of time."

Harley suffered a severe brain injury and while he did recover Harley is still somewhat shaky and is no longer the outgoing canine companion Meyer came to love. Harley's attacker was a male passerby walking with a group of friends who laughed after the attack and ran away. No arrest has been made but thanks to Crimestoppers the perpetrator has been identified. You can follow their story on Facebook.

Our neighboring state to the south knows this type of animal cruelty doesn't happen very often, but when it does Nebraska has a law to address violent acts against an animal. The recent case where an Omaha man was sentenced to prison for dog's horrific death is case and point. Nebraska's law has been on the books for 10 years and as Humane Investigator Langan states "felony animal abuse charges are filed only about two or three times a year — typically in cases in which an animal has been tortured, repeatedly beaten, mutilated or abandoned."

For those who say 'that type of animal cruelty just doesn't happen in South Dakota'... we hope it doesn't, but in the rare case where it does we want an appropriate law in place. Felony animal cruelty laws will protect pets and South Dakota communities from violent offenders.

UPDATE 1/8/2013 -
Harley's attacker was identified and arrested. Shane M. Hauge entered a guilty plea on January 8th to the injury or death of an animal (Harley) - a misdemeanor class 1. Hauge was sentenced to 100 days in jail; 86 suspended, a $413 fine and $500 restitution toward Harley's vet bills of $2500.

Although they was some sort of justice for Harley, Janet Meyer continues advocate for change of current South Dakota animal cruelty laws. Creating felony penalties will provide prosecutors with another option when dealing with violent offenders.  Meyer says "We are the voices for our beloved animals. SD law makers hear us roar! Make it a felony to maliciously and intentionally hurt or kill our pets in 2013!"

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