Ensure Animal Cruelty is Made a Felony


Target: South Dakota legislators

Goal: Commend South Dakota for proposing bill to make animal cruelty a felony

South Dakota may soon make animal cruelty a felony by passing a bill satisfying both livestock producers and animal welfare groups, says state veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven. Inhumane treatment of animals is currently a misdemeanor in the state, and some animal welfare groups have said it is the only state without felony penalties for animal mistreatment. Bring South Dakota up to speed and protect animal rights by supporting the new bill.

The proposal will come before state legislature in 2014, and make it a felony to commit malicious, intentional acts of torture or mutilation against animals. It will also clarify that standard accepted livestock-raising practices are not mistreatment.

Animal cruelty bills have been rejected in the past due to concerns from livestock producers. ”What it really comes down to is that the ag groups have taken charge of this. Instead of being on defense on the introduction of this type of legislation, they’ve decided to be at the table in drafting this legislation,” Oedekoven said. “In doing so, we have created the felony penalty for certain acts which I think all agree are terrible acts and we would agree a felony penalty would be appropriate. We’ve also been careful to clarify in general that standard accepted ag practices are not considered mistreatment or cruelty.”

If the bill is passed, it would make intentional and malicious acts of torture or other cruelty a Class 6 felony, which carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $4,000 fine.  Currently, inhumane treatment of animals is a misdemeanor, carrying a maximum penalty of up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine. The only current felony involving cruelty to animals is dog fighting.

The Industry Board investigate all complaints of livestock neglect, and most turn out not to be neglect, according to Oedekoven. Most problems are solved by educating livestock owners, he said.

The Animal Industry Board, which oversees livestock health in the state, has approved a draft of the compromise and will soon be introduced for consideration. Commend legislators for proposing this bill and ask them to pass it.


Dear South Dakota legislators,

Thank you for introducing a bill to make animal cruelty a felony. The current misdemeanor punishment is not even close to enough punishment for willful cruelty to an animal. Making cruelty a felony will hopefully deter would be abusers who don’t want to face the punishment.

Please pass this important bill. As some animal welfare groups have said, South Dakota is one of the only states in which animal cruelty is not a felony. This needs to change. Please protect animals with all your power.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Tim Dawson via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Our species is simply not happy unless it’s destroying something or someone else. then we boohoo in 50 years because we created the extinction of something beautiful, the result of our bloodthirsty lust to hurt other beings.
    Present company excluded, obviously.

  2. OOOPS, I thought I was on the Wolf Hunt page, sorry !

  3. Sheila Jefferson says:

    Animal cruelty a felony!! no question!!
    Protect animals!

  4. Cecily Colloby. says:

    Totally agree with Holly.

  5. Colleen M. King says:

    All acts of abuse torture cruelty &etc to animals should B a felany. More then two years& 4,000$ tht isn’t nothin compare to wht they’ve done to the animals. Tht Is only a slap on the wrist & should B life. Or do to them like they did to the animals & the same goes for the vets. They took an oath to save animals fry them

  6. please make this happen, there is such a lot of suffering, these animals do not deserve any of it, and if the humans can go to prison for hurting anything it might make them stop and think, but of course it might not,

  7. Patricia Wicker says:

    Animal Abuse is an absolute FELONY!!!!!!!

  8. I will not commend the state. They drafted a bill that mirrors other states’ bills that have proven to have so much wiggle room in the interpretation of “deliberate” and “malicious” that it has let horrific animal abuse and torture to go unpunished. I am sure those states’ were their labratories from which to draft as crappy a law as the other BigAg states did. It is mostly a P.R. law, not an effective one. Also, they are the last hold-outs in even trying to pretend to care. Further, their absolute refusal to afford livestock one iota of consideration shows me a state drunk on Big Ag interests and no compassion whatsoever to the suffering of living things under any circumstance. So they will not be getting a pat on the back from me. I do have a middle finger I would be willing to wag at them, though.

  9. michael newby says:

    facebook recently posted a pic of 5 men who just cut the head off a cat ,held the decapitated head by his ears , eyes still open , with the body next to the knife….sick

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