Animal Cruelty Bill Ready for House Vote - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Animal Cruelty Bill Ready for House Vote

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Bismarck, ND -

The House Agriculture committee put it's finishing touches on the animal cruelty bill.

In the end, committee members say the bill balances protecting the state's livestock industry with deterring those from harming animals.

The bill takes the crime of mistreatment of animals and separates them into three categories - neglect, abuse and cruelty.

For animal neglect, dogs and cats are treated differently than other animals like cows and horses.

The big change is that the bill no longer includes a felony charge for animal neglect.

Neglect of an animal is a class A misdemeanor no matter how many offenses.

Animal abuse which covers any acts that result in the injury or death of an animal becomes a class C felony for the third offense.

And for anyone who intentionally engages in animal cruelty is guilty of a class C felony.

Committee members say the felony penalties will be applied to the most severe cases.

"The felony is still on the table if a person is neglecting their animals to the point that they are dying or physically harmed," says Representative Marvin Nelson of Rolla.

"We have a bill that is something of a balance that will protect animals, deter people who want to harm them unnecessarily and yet will also protect our state's number one industry, agriculture, of which livestock is a huge factor," says Representative David Rust of Tioga.

The committee gave the bill a do pass recommendation with a 18-0 vote.

The bill will now go to the full House to be voted on.

Majority Leader Al Carlson says that could happen Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.

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