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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Maysie's tragic story motivates animal advocates to change SD animal cruelty laws

In 2009 it was Maysie’s story that motivated SDFACT’s Shari Kosel to push for stronger animal cruelty laws in South Dakota. Maysie’s story, while tragic, may also motivate some of you to continue advocating for animals.

We share Maysie’s story in the words of her owner, Lois Grimsrud-Vig:

Our yellow lab puppy named Maysie filled a void in our lives and grew into a beautiful and loving companion. We realized she was something very special and spent hundreds of dollars having her trained professionally. Even the trainer fell in love with Maysie. She was so unique that when you said, "Smile Maysie", she would wrinkle her little snout and wag her tail. Our vet said he'd never seen a dog smile on command before. Maysie's only down fall was that she loved everyone and would go to anyone.
Ms. Maysie smiling on command.

One afternoon in 2009, I let Maysie outside to do her business but sadly she didn’t come back. Maysie was whistle-trained so I blew my whistle over and over, but no Maysie. We lived out in the country and drove around searching for her, blowing her whistle. Our neighbors helped and into the early morning hours we all looked for Maysie. My husband put on snowshoes and walked the mountain, fearing a coyote or mountain lion may had gotten her. Maysie had never taken off for more than an hour or two but soon hours turned into days.

I called all the veterinarian clinics in the Black Hills fearing she was stolen for a hunting dog and I put ads in newspapers from Aberdeen to Yankton and Spearfish to Sioux Falls offering a $500 reward if she was returned. We received numerous calls from all over the state but none were successful.  Days turned into weeks and we finally came to the conclusion that our Maysie was gone.

We prayed that who ever had her was taking care of her and would love her as much as we did. One month later we received a call from someone who said, "we think we found your dog in our shed".  The rest will haunt us forever.

Sadly, they found Maysie in what we considered a death chamber. To add a sadisic twist, the latch on the shed was securely fastened from the outside. According to the investigation report put together by the Lawrence County Sheriff's office, Maysie was kept alive in a cruel and neglected state for quite some time. When she was no longer able to move, the perpetrator moved her to that shed to die. The shed was on the Deer Mountain Ski Hill and it was locked from the outside...no windows, no way to get in unless she was put there. When we found Maysie she was so emaciated that you could see her ribs and hips. You could see she had scratched a rug that was in the shed into a pile to sleep on and you could see marks on the door where she tried to get out. The shed owner said he was in this shed just two weeks prior and it was empty. Trying to make sense of the situation, I asked a vet if Maysie could have survived that long with no food. The answer was yes, a healthy animal could live for as long as a month with only water. It is almost too much to comprehend that someone could be so cruel and heartless to any living thing – especially Maysie who probably went to them smiling and wagging her tail. We offered a $1,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the individual responsible for Maysie's death.

We cannot comprehend why anyone would do such a thing to a beautiful animal and the Sheriff never found any leads in the case. One cannot even imagine the pain and suffering Maysie endured. Perhaps most upsetting to us was the fact that even if the perpetrator was found, there would be no justice for Maysie under current South Dakota animal cruelty laws.  While cases like this don’t happen often – when people commit such evil acts against a pet, there should be stricter laws in place so prosecutors can properly deal with offenders. 

I hope by sharing Maysie’s story, other South Dakotans will understand why we need felony-level penalties for malicious and intentional acts of torture. People who commit these horrific acts could be a danger to the community and should receive a mental health evaluation and counseling so they will not later offend against humans. Please join me in supporting SB 171 to protect our pets and communities.  We offer a special thank you to Shari Kosel for leading this long and sometimes frustrating effort to change South Dakota animal cruelty laws in memory of Maysie and many others who have suffered needlessly.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Employee using state resources to take down SD animal advocates & SB 171

Today an article in the Mitchell Daily Republic described Jim Krantz’s efforts to spread a message in opposition to animal advocacy in South Dakota. Krantz is a cow/calf field specialist with South Dakota State University and recently made a presentation to the Mitchell Lions Club.

According to the article Krantz said “they think we need a felony penalty for that, and I’m not here to argue that.” Krantz goes on to say “he feels such changes should come from South Dakotans, not from the HSUS…”

Guess what Mr. Krantz… SB 171 was created by South Dakotans and is supported by South Dakotans. No national organization (not HSUS) is affiliated with this bill. It is also important to note all of SD’s neighboring states recognized the link between animal cruelty and human violence 10-20 years ago.  We believe it is time SD became the 49th state in the country with felony-level penalties to protect our pets and communities from violent offenders.  Mr. Krantz and his Ag groups would know this if they would respond to SDFACT’s invitations to discuss SB 171.

The bottom line is Ag entities have no intention of coming to the table with South Dakotans to pass meaningful laws.  Instead Mr. Krantz of South Dakota State University is wasting state resources to take down South Dakota animal advocates in order to block the passage of SB 171.  Join us in voicing our frustration by contacting South Dakota State University President David Chicoine to let him know you are a South Dakota taxpayer and believe Mr. Krantz’s efforts are a waste of state resources.

With individuals like Mr. Krantz labeling South Dakotans as extreme animal rights activists, you can bet our battle to pass SB 171 will be even more difficult. This misinformation continues to detract from the merits of the bill so it is even more important to let members of the Senate Ag Committee know SB 171 excludes hunting, fishing, trapping and animal agriculture and it protects pets and South Dakota communities from violent offenders.