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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Welcome to the new SD FACT - new logo + new mission

Today felony animal cruelty became law in South Dakota. SD FACT worked hard during the 89th legislative session to pass SB 46 which provided prosecutors and judges with the tools they need when dealing with violent offenders against animals. A survey of pet-owning families with substantiated child abuse and neglect found that animals were abused in 88 percent of homes where child physical abuse was present (DeViney, Dickert, & Lockwood, 1983). A study of women seeking shelter at a safe house showed that 71 percent of those having pets affirmed that their partner had threatened, hurt or killed their companion animals, and 32 percent of mothers reported that their children had hurt or killed their pets (Ascione, 1998). Still another study showed that violent offenders incarcerated in a maximum security prison were significantly more likely than nonviolent offenders to have committed childhood acts of cruelty toward pets (Merz-Perez, Heide, & Silverman, 2001).

A correlation between animal abuse, family violence and other forms of community violence is proven and as of today all 50 states now have felony provisions for the worst forms of animal cruelty. In South Dakota, the most egregious acts of cruelty against any animal can now be considered a felony which not only protects animals but also our communities from violent offenders.

While we celebrate this monumental accomplishment in South Dakota, SD FACT knows it is even more important for animal protection advocates to engage in the legislative process. When lawmakers stand up for animals, we must stand up for them. So today we launch SD FACT’s new logo and mission… to advocate for the protection and humane treatment of animals in South Dakota. We support candidates and incumbents who align with these values. We advocate for humane legislation, oppose inhumane legislation, and educate the public on issues that affect animals in our Statehouse.

SD FACT is an all-volunteer, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, incorporated by the state, and we are registered as Political Action Committee (PAC) in South Dakota. We operate as the political arm of the animal protection movement in South Dakota. SD FACT supports democrats, republicans, and independents based on their support of animal protection. We organize and mobilize volunteers in regions throughout South Dakota supporting humane-minded candidates. We raise money from compassionate citizens to donate to various campaigns at the state level.  When lawmakers stand up for animals, we must stand up for them. We want lawmakers in office who develop and maintain laws that protect animals.  SD FACT is the only organization in the state that can influence elections for animal protection, this is referred to electioneering. Local shelters and other non-profits can lobby but they cannot influence elections. They cannot endorse candidates, organize volunteers or raise money for humane candidates because of their 501(c)(3) tax designation. Therefore, contributions to SD FACT do not qualify as charitable contributions for federal tax purposes.

We work strategically in the South Dakota political arena to help animals, by:

• Tracking the issues that affect animals
• Surveying South Dakota candidates for elected office
• Prioritizing and developing positions on proposed legislation
• Meeting with South Dakota elected officials
• Organizing grassroots legislative networks through a network of volunteer Community  Coordinators
• Mobilizing SD FACT members to communicate with legislators
• Publishing an annual SD Humane Scorecard on incumbents’ voting records
• Keeping our members informed through periodic updates
• Educating South Dakota citizens and their elected representatives on how the choices we make through our the legislature impact the humane treatment of animals
• Utilizing news and social media to promote animal welfare issues in South Dakota

SD FACT is an all-volunteer organization and so volunteers are the life blood of our organization.  There are so many ways you can help.  Volunteer duties include: talking with registered voters about animal welfare issues, organizing petition-teams, lobbying at the State Capitol, organizing fundraising events, outreach at festivals and fairs, handing out information fliers, or become a Community Coordinator helping us organize door knocking, phone banking and education. 

Visit our website at to learn more, make a contribution and join our effort because when lawmakers stand up for animals, we must stand up for them.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Never Give Up - Felony Animal Cruelty is Law in SD!

Today Governor Daugaard signed SB 46 into law, providing felony level penalties for the most egregious acts of animal cruelty. Animal abuse is a heinous crime but it can be much more than that. Sometimes it’s a sign that people are also being abused or soon will be. The proven link between animal cruelty and human violence is well documented, and passing SB 46 is a crucial step in deterring violent offenders, ensuring community safety, and protecting animals. 

As of July 1, prosecutors and judges in South Dakota will have tools they need to deal with the most malicious, willful and intentional acts of animal cruelty. We celebrate this milestone and thank you. After more than 5 years of discussing the issue and introducing legislation only to see it fail, we were able to sit down with other stakeholders and find a compromise.

As Winston Churchill said, “Never give up on something that you can't go a day without thinking about.” We’ve certainly seen more horrific cases of animal cruelty happen in our state and stuck in our minds. So today we honor the animals that motivated all of us to advocate and change South Dakota animal cruelty laws. Maysie, Buddy, Shy and countless others provided us with the determination to see it through. We are South Dakotans Fighting Animal Cruelty Together (SD FACT) and we did it!

Thank you to the South Dakota Legislators who supported SB 46 and Governor Daugaard for signing it into law. Most of all, we thank you, the South Dakota animal advocates who never gave up. It is a good day for animals in South Dakota when we know communities and animals are protected.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Prepare to Advocate for SD Animals in 2014 - Cruelty Draft Update

The 2014 South Dakota Legislative Session begins in just ten days and it is time for us prepare to advocate for South Dakota animals. Please share SDFACT's update with your friends and family - it's time!  Are you familiar with the South Dakota Legislature’s new website? It is very user-friendly and you can easily access information during the upcoming session - find & email your legislators, read bills, and identify when committees meet. You can also use the E-Subscribe (My LRC) to track bills for yourself. Check it out!

After five years of advocating to change South Dakota’s animal cruelty code, SDFACT reached out to Senator Krebs at the conclusion of the 2013 legislative session. Krebs coordinated a meeting for us with the State Veterinarian and staff from the Department of Agriculture.  Throughout the year SDFACT volunteers worked with the State Veterinarian and representatives from the Animal Industry Board, Sherriff’s Association, States Attorneys Association, animal shelters, Ag entities, and other stakeholders to draft a bill that would make the most violent acts of animal cruelty a felony in South Dakota.

We just received this update on the SDCL 40-1 draft from State Veterinarian Dr. Oedekoven: “The Governor has approved the draft, with some minor revisions that do not change the intent of the bill.  The bill has been pre-filed with LRC and they are making their suggested edits, which I hope will be complete by late next week.  Sen. Krebs has agreed to have the bill introduced into the Senate Ag committee at her earliest convenience.”

While no action is needed at this time, we ask you to stand ready to contact your legislators in support of this important piece of legislation.  We’ll share the final draft, bill number and other information as it becomes available - follow us on Facebook or check our website! Thank you for your continued support of animals in South Dakota – 2014 is the year!

                                                   SDFACT…until felony animal cruelty legislation is law!