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Monday, January 14, 2013

Is the SD felony companion animal cruelty draft still too far reaching?

Opponents say the felony companion animal cruelty draft is still too far reaching? Really? Because we took the advice of South Dakota lawmakers and Ag lobbyists when developing the proposed draft. This makes us wonder - will they find issue with any law that offers some protection for pets? One member of the opposition recently stated "if a sick old dog is suffering and the owner puts it out of its misery with a bullet, that would be considered a felony." That information is inaccurate - current law allows this and that will not change. Putting down a beloved pet that is aging and ill would not be considered a felony because it isn't aggravated cruelty - it just isn't malicious, it is an act of compassion.

Both lawmakers and Ag lobbyists have suggested a bill specific to companion animals that does not interfere with South Dakota animal husbandry practices like branding, castrating bull calves and emergency C-sections on cows. In fact here's what the South Dakota Farm Bureau's lobbyist told The Daily Republic in a September 2009 article titled Woman circulating petition to change state's cruelty law"if a bill was written that excluded livestock practices done by ranchers and producers, officials would have to take a look at the language before passing judgment on it."  In the same article Lawmaker Mike Vehle of Mitchell told The Daily Republic "if an animal cruelty penalty change bill is to be reintroduced, lawmakers will need to work with agriculture entities to make sure it doesn't negatively impact how farms and ranches operate."

So our question is why has Ag opposition blocked the reintroduction of a bill for the past 3 years? Can't South Dakotans discuss the merits of this bill in a legislative committee? We expected misinformation to surface, but not before a bill is even introduced. Come on, let's get a bill introduced so it can be discussed in committee by Ag entities and South Dakota animal advocates alike. Unfortunately, the deadline to introduce legislation is January 23 - next Wednesday. We know constituents in almost every South Dakota district have contacted their legislators for sponsorship and support. Some are sympathetic, some commit to considering the bill and others have not even replied to their own constituents. Let's hope they've just been busy and some sponsors and supporters will step forward this week because South Dakotans want protection for our pets and communities now. A working draft of the proposed felony companion animal bill is provided below. Remember your legislators work for you, so if you haven't received a response, call the Senator Lobby at 605.773.3821 and the House Lobby at 605.773.3851 now. You can leave a message with the lobby receptionist following up on the email you sent - ask your legislators to create and pass a felony companion animal cruelty bill in 2013. If you haven't contacted your legislators because you thought others were making it happen - contact them today. This is a grassroots effort and we need everyone's help!

State of South Dakota

Introduced by: __________________________________

FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to provide for felony penalties for aggravated cruelty to dogs, cats, and horses. BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA:

Section 1. That Chapter 40-1 be amended by adding thereto a NEW SECTION to read as follows:
40-1-27.1 Aggravated cruelty as felony.  No person may maliciously and intentionally cause the mistreatment, torture, or cruelty of any dog, cat, or horse resulting in serious injury, serious illness, or death of the dog, cat, or horse.  A violation of this section is a class 6 felony. “Serious injury” means any injury that creates a substantial risk of death, leaves a dog, cat, or horse significantly disfigured, causes broken bones, or causes prolonged impairment of health. “Serious illness” means any illness or starvation that creates a substantial risk of death, leaves a dog, cat, or horse significantly disfigured, or causes prolonged impairment of health. “Torture” includes but is not limited to burning, poisoning, crushing, suffocating, impaling, drowning, blinding, skinning, fatal beating, fatal dragging, fatal exsanguination, disemboweling or dismemberment of a dog, cat or horse.

This section may not be construed to prohibit:
(1)     Hunting, trapping, fishing, or any other activity regulated under Title 41;
(2)     The marking of an animal for identification, and any other activity that is a usual and customary practice in production agriculture;
(3)     Examination, testing, individual treatment, operation, or euthanasia performed by or under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian;
(4)     Lawful medical or scientific research conducted at a public or private facility or laboratory by or under the direction of a qualified researcher; and
(5)     Any lawful activity undertaken to protect a person’s life or property from a serious threat caused by a dog, cat, or horse.

Any person who violates this section may also, at the discretion of the court, be ordered to undergo psychological or psychiatric evaluation and obtain psychological counseling, including counseling in responsible pet ownership or animal cruelty prevention, for which the person shall bear any costs incurred; and not to own or possess a dog, cat, or horse for up to five years after the date of the sentencing.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Why don't you people come clean with the people of SD and tell them you are being funded by the HSUS. Or do think the people of SD are ignorant that they would not catch on to your game.If your intentions were truly in the best interest of the animals you wouldn't have to hide the fact that this is the same thing you tried in ND last year.

    1. I am on this task force and I can attest that we are 100% NOT FUNDED BY ANY outside agency including HSUS. I have spent my own money as have the others on our team.

      What can we do to prove this? Do you want to see my bank accounts?
      Please don't use the word "ignorant" when you don't have any reason to question the genuine honesty from this group of dedicated volunteers.

    2. I am also involved in SD FACTs efforts. I can confirm we are not employed by or funded by the HSUS. I am not a HSUS member and have never donated to the organization. When you say you people, I can only assume you mean South Dakota citizens. When you say game, I can only assume you are referring to exercising our rights as South Dakota citizens to speak up for companion animals.

  3. I am on this task force and I can attest that we are 100% NOT FUNDED BY ANY outside agency including HSUS. I have spent my own money as have the others on our team.

    What can we do to prove this? Do you want to see my bank accounts?

  4. I am also involved in SDFACT's efforts. We have not received any money from ANY outside agency (national, state or local - this includes HSUS). This is completely a grassroots effort - we are all South Dakotans donating our time. I too have spent my own money for SDFACT's efforts. Is it so inconceivable that South Dakota citizens be concerned about the safety of their communities & pets?

  5. I'm sure you both have put in your own time and money, which is very commendable, but the sad fact is that I find it very hard to trust any type of animal cruelty laws because they always seem to carry hidden penalties for ANYTHING animal rights people think is cruel or inhumane. I have had first hand experience with these groups and I can tell you this smells a lot like their underhanded treachery. Save the Harvest. com has blog about this as well.
    Its not that I don't think SD needs stiffer penalties for animal cruelty, its the under handedness of the Animal rights groups I have trouble with.