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March 29, 2013

The Humane Society of the United States Urges the North Dakota House to Pass a Strong Animal Cruelty Bill

The Humane Society of the United States is urging the North Dakota House of Representatives to pass legislation that cleared the Senate last month—S.B. 2211, which would establish some felony-level penalties for malicious animal cruelty, neglect and abandonment. The House Agriculture committee removed felony penalties for neglect and abandonment, which will not go far enough to protect animals in North Dakota.

“North Dakotans were promised a strong animal cruelty law before the election, and the Senate bill comes close to fulfilling that promise,” said Karen Thunshelle, North Dakota state director for The HSUS. “The House of Representatives should not delay in passing that version of the legislation, and giving North Dakotas voters what they are expecting.”

S.B. 2211—in its current form—would make some cases of animal cruelty punishable by up a class "C" felony. As passed by the Senate, SB 2211 provides a first-offense felony in cases where a person willfully engages in animal cruelty. Acts of neglect, animal abuse and animal abandonment are not punishable as a felony unless three separate offenses occur within 10 years.

The recent horse abuse case in Morton and Burleigh counties highlights the need to crack down on animal cruelty in North Dakota. More than 100 horses died and more than 150 more were left to suffer while their owner allegedly neglected them. In another case, a Williams County woman paid a mere $200 fine for beating her dog to death with a hammer on Christmas day.

North Dakota ranked 48th—nearly last in the nation—in The Humane Society of the United States’ 2012 “Humane State Ranking” report, which grades each state and the District of Columbia on a wide variety of animal welfare laws.

Media Contact: Stephanie Twining, 240-751-3943, stwining@humanesociety.org

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