ND Legislature Approves Stronger Animal Cruelty Law - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

ND Legislature Approves Stronger Animal Cruelty Law

Bismarck, ND -

North Dakota lawmakers make cruelty to animals a felony.

The animal cruelty bill passed the House this morning by a vote of 80-12.

It has been one of the most followed pieces of legislation this session.

As Donnell Preskey reports, the bill puts teeth into the law by toughening the punishment for those who abuse animals.

"For the first time North Dakota now has on the books a felony for most outrageous cases of animal abuse," says Senator Tim Flakoll, a bill sponsor.

The animal cruelty law makes abandonment, neglect and abuse class A misdemeanors.

Repeat abuse offenders would face a C felony.

And cruelty, the most severe crime, is also stepped up to a C felony, which carries a maximum of five years in prison.

"It is the most outrageous of things, breaking of bones, torturing an animal, mutilating an animal," says Representative David Rust of Tioga.

Flakoll says, "It sends strong message we will not tolerate inappropriate acts to animals."

An important element of the bill is it protects the state's number one industry: agriculture.

The bill makes clear distinctions between acts of mistreatment and customary acts used in the livestock industry.

Julie Ellingson, with the ND Stockman's Association says, "It is important we know what the law says and separates bad actors and legitimate practices by appropriately behaving people."

While this bill has been in the works for years,

It comes on the heels of a massive animal abuse case in Burleigh and Morton Counties where 100 plus horses were found dead, starved to death.

"There have been major, high profile cases with horses and cattle that really gives this a face.We know there are other things that occur but those were instances that reminded us that there is a need for this and there are people who do terrible things to animals," says Flakoll.

It's also hard to not forget the initiated measure on this issue that was overwhelmingly defeated in November.

Lawmakers say they believe this stronger law will keep those satisfy outside animal rights groups.

"With the Class C felony for cruelty and repeat abuse, I think that should do it."

Senate Bill 2211 now goes to Governor Dalrymple for his signature.

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