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

House Passes Animal Cruelty Bill

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Abuse of animals is a hot topic in North Dakota right now.

An initiated measure to increase the animal cruelty laws in the state was defeated in November.

Just as the debate over that issue settled down, a massive animal neglect case in Burleigh and Morton County was exposed where nearly 100 horses were found dead.

While lawmakers are hearing the pleas for stronger animal abuse laws they have been careful not to overreact.

Donnell Preskey has more from the Capitol where the House approved legislation addressing animal cruelty.

The North Dakota House has decided a Felony is appropriate for the most severe animal cruelty cases.

"Addresses animal welfare while protecting animal production balance so one does not compromise the other," says Rep. Rust.

The House Agriculture committee separated mistreatment of animals into four categories, neglect, abuse, abandonment and cruelty.

Most of the crimes are considered misdemeanors with abuse on a 3rd offense a C felony.

Under this bill, the most heinous crimes to animals, the cruelty cases, are also C felonies.

"Gives examples of cruelty," says Rust.

The debate on the bill was limited, legislators had more questions on what crimes are covered.

"I have reservations, think this bill goes beyond what have to do to protect animals," says Headland.

But an initiated measure on the November 2012 ballot stirred up emotion on the issue.

It failed by 65% but lawmakers feel threatened more attempts will be made if legislators don't act.

"If this bill keeps out of state animal activists out then it's good to pass," says Headland.

Representatives passed the bill with a vote of 90-1.

Because the House made changes to the bill, Senate bill 2211 returns to the senate for their consideration.

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