N.D. Animal Stewards battle Measure 5

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No on 5 Several animal and veterinary organizations in North Dakota have banded together as the North Dakota Animal Stewards (NDAS) to fight Measure 5, a ballot initiative slated for the November elections.

The proposed ballot initiative is being pushed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which is rankling North Dakotans who believe the state’s own citizens and animal experts should decide what is best for animal care in the state, and not outside special interest groups.

The NDAS is a group composed of the North Dakota Stockmen's Association, North Dakota Farm Bureau, North Dakota Farmers Union, North Dakota Lamb & Wool Producers Association, North Dakota Pork Council, North Dakota Deer Ranchers Association, Humane Society Fargo-Moorhead, North Dakota Elk Growers, the Milk Producers Association of North Dakota and other animal stakeholders.

“The North Dakota Animal Stewards coalition represents salt-of-the-earth North Dakotans who work with and care for animals every day in their respective capacities as farmers, ranchers, veterinarians, pet shelter workers, pet owners and other stakeholders,” says Julie Ellingson, executive vice president of the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association.

“These people are vested in this issue and work day in and day out to make sure animals receive proper treatment. They are looked to as the experts on this topic, and that's why when they collectively say Measure 5 is wrong for animals and this state, people listen.”

Measure 5 would make it a class “C” felony for cruelty to dogs, cats and horses. On the NDAS website, Jason Schmidt, North Dakota Stockmen's Association president and a fourth-generation Medina, N.D., farmer and rancher, says "It is poorly worded by design to give animal rights groups like the Humane Society of the United States a foothold in North Dakota to make more sweeping changes later, like they've done in places like Missouri, California and other states."

Ellingson adds that Measure 5 is deeply flawed, focusing on only three species of animals and rarely (if ever) seen acts against them. “At the same time, the measure is silent on the most common forms of mistreatment in the state and is poorly worded, leaving lots of room for interpretation and unintended consequences, even for those who care for animals,” she says.

Organizations such as Missouri Farmers Care have been down that road before and have offered their support to the NDAS. In an email this week, the Missouri organization says, “Like they did with Proposition B in 2010, HSUS is pushing a ballot initiative, Measure 5, which appears to help animals but in fact does little good for animal welfare.

The same people that pushed Proposition B and the so-called ‘Your Vote Counts’ effort in Missouri moved to North Dakota to push Measure 5 and the pro-Measure 5 website is even owned and operated by HSUS. 

“Missouri Farmers Care chose to assist the North Dakota Animal Stewards in their fight against HSUS and Measure 5 because we have been repeatedly targeted by HSUS ballot initiatives and we strongly believe that the agricultural community must begin working together to defend ourselves,” the email says.

Don’t take this to mean that North Dakotans and the NDAS don’t care about animals – the group is concerned that this ballot initiative in particular will not live up to its intent and that better measures can be put in place.

A coalition of North Dakota animal stakeholders called the North Dakotans for Responsible Animal Care, has drafted legislation to be introduced during the next legislation session that is a much better option for North Dakota, as it addresses all animals, includes appropriate definitions, penalties and exemptions and provides clarity and guidance for those who must respond to cases of mistreatment, like law enforcement, veterinarians and shelters, Ellingson explains.

 “The North Dakota ag community and people in general appreciate learning the whole story behind Measure 5,” Ellingson states. “No one supports animal cruelty, but the narrow-focused, poorly worded Measure 5 is wrong for North Dakota. It would not help North Dakota animals and could have serious consequences for our state.” 

Click here to read what NDAS says the problems are with Measure 5. 

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Terry Ward    
Pa.  |  October, 15, 2012 at 03:52 PM

And here was me thinkin' it was impossible to be born without a soul.

Pet Law News    
October, 15, 2012 at 05:47 PM

HSUS is very soulless, that is certain. http://www.facebook.com/StopHSUS

north dakota  |  October, 16, 2012 at 01:26 AM

so a bunch of businesses that profit off the abuse and exploitation of animals is against measure 5, what a surprise.

Craig A. Moore    
Billings, MT  |  October, 16, 2012 at 09:32 AM

I won't tell you what to think and you don't tell me what I can eat.

North Dakota  |  October, 16, 2012 at 10:21 AM

This initiative is a grassroots effort by North Dakotans. Frustration by the citizens with inabilty to protect animals from extreme cases of brutality is the crux of this movement. Unfortunately, citizens are powerless and alot of politics involved so they turn to a well-funded, motivated animal rights group to help. Wouldn't have to do that if stockman's, farm bureau, etc. applied political pressure to begin with. You do realize that rope down castration of horses and dogs is not uncommon in these parts. Where is Stockman's voice about that? Where are the rancher's voice about that brutality? Or do you think that rope down castration of horses is OK?

October, 17, 2012 at 09:58 PM

First of all, rope down castration of horses and dogs is NOT a common procedure in North Dakota. I'd like to hear why you think that. In North Dakota, unlicensed professionals are not allowed to perform veterinary services. Secondly, North Dakota does in fact have a cruelty and neglect law (ND ST 36-21.1-01 - 15). Thirdly, this law does not cover food animal species so the argument of people exploiting animals for profit (which I believe to be an absurd accusation - no farmer can make money if they are not caring for their animals properly) has no base here since these laws don't apply to such species as cattle or deer. The point of saying No would to make sure large organizations such as the HSUS can't come back and make changes. It is a completely vague law that is open to a lot of interpretation, and laws should NOT be like that.

Kansas City, Kansas  |  October, 18, 2012 at 08:06 PM

The animals are better off with them, actually.

Kansas  |  October, 23, 2012 at 10:39 AM

I can not beleive the stupid comments below worrying about the care of animals. Most of you have never lived on a farm or ranch I will bet. Why would a farmer or rancher be cruel to the animals he is trying to make a living raising, that would be very counter productive. Your comments caring about how animals are treated, when you sit there and do not care how humans are treated in your own back yard or neighborhood, with the gossiping and corruption in your own towns. GIVE ME A BREAK. THIS LAW RANKS RIGHT UP THERE WITH giving more money to politicians!!!! Come live with me on the ranch and see what it is really like!!

Grass Root North Dakotan    
North Dakota  |  October, 23, 2012 at 09:59 PM

I will have to agree with Sarah! I'm a grass root North Dakotan- I own many horses, a dog and cats! I have many friends and have many aquaintances that own horses, dogs and cats in North Dakota- My animals are my life and never in my life have I ever seen a person malicously hurt their horse, dog or cat! I have seen people neglect their animals, stop feeding and properly caring for them- but that is simple neglect and that is not being covered in this measure! I have never seen or ever heard of a person doing a rope down castaration and as far as " a bunch of businesses that profit off the abuse and explotation of animals being against measure 5" you are talking about our State's Veterinarians, Stockmen's Associations, local animal shelters, and North Dakota Farmer's Bureau to name a few.. these are organizations that are held in high regard in our state when it comes to Quality Care and Assurance to our animals- I would watch how loosely you throw your comments around. Check the real facts- like only 2 cases in the last 20 years that have ever been seen in our state would be covered under this bill. The Humane Society of the United States has given over $500,000 to push Advertising and promotions forward in favor of this measure- what would you do with $500,000?! I think our local animal shelters would greatly appreciate that kind of donation- how many horses, dogs and cats would that feed and care for that were just simply neglected and left to fend for themselves?

North dakota  |  October, 24, 2012 at 08:37 PM

Sarah, I live in Western ND and yes, rope down castrations happen commonly. I am a mixed practice veterinarian and i have to deal w the complicatons of "home" castrations of dogs. Yes. The law "says" that unlicensed professionals are not suppose to do stuff like that but the laws are not enforced and they are very weak. In fact, there was an article in the dickinson press just this summer about a layman proudly calling himself a horse castrator. I fight this all the time educating western ND about the value of having a veterinarian do it under humane conditons. They are learning slowly. Yes we have the law you mentioned......trouble is its only a class A misdemeaner. That is the whole point of measure 5..... To make it a felony. I don't get your third point and how it applies to the arguement I am not a fan of the hsus either. In fact i have gone head to head w them as well. But they are well funded and are good at PR. I don't mind using them for the things we agree on. For me, its a matter of hold your friends close and your enemies closer.

North dakota  |  October, 24, 2012 at 08:54 PM

Grassroots, Do you not remember the incident in 2009 in south dakota where a horse was stolen from a college rodeo, beaten, drug, tied down and abused? Look it up and then tell me that people like that don't exist in our world. 99.5% of north dakotans are normal, caring helpful animal caretakers.....this law is not for them. Its for the crazies. If you haven't heard or seen someone do a rope down castration, you haven't been to western North Dakota. $500,000 from the hsus....not sure where you got your numbers but even if they are correct, that is why i was willing to allow them to help us w this measure.....they have money. We tried to get bills like this funded through the legislature before....and they never passed. So, we are seeing if we can get the laws passed through a popular vote....need lots of funding for that.

Scott Boura    
Grafton  |  October, 29, 2012 at 02:16 PM

This legislation misses the most prevalent form of abuse...NEGLECT... dispite what was mentioned previously ND ST 36-21.1-01 - 15 doesn't get into neglect (repealed). I see this form of abuse on a regular basis. Animals short leashed or tangled, wading through their own wastes or tied out in bad weather with no shelter available. I see some animals suffering through this month after month. If this ype of legislation is going to be put in place lets do it right.

USA  |  October, 30, 2012 at 04:40 PM

Terry all animal life on the planet, other than man, are born without a soul. Man is the exception because he was CREATED in the image of GOD, who gave man dominion over the planet. That dominion includes use and benefit of animal life for milk, meat, clothing, medicine, transportation, traction and many other uses. Man was also charged to be a steward, that is a husbandman to the animals and a dresser of the Garden (a farmer). This is the daily life of those involved in agriculture, largely on behalf of their fellowmen. It's what we do, because doing otherwise is not in our best interest. Every occupation has a few bad apples, i.e., rogue cops, crooked politicians - - - well you can take it from here. Wake up to the truth.

?  |  March, 22, 2013 at 01:32 PM

animals should not be treated that way at all

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