An animal cruelty bill including felony-level penalties for first-time offenders was approved by North Dakota’s Legislature on Wednesday.
According to the new bill, S.B. 2211, first-time offenders of animal cruelty may be guilty of a class C felony. One who engages in animal neglect is guilty of a class A misdemeanor for a first and second offense, but will be guilty of a class C felony for a third or subsequent offense occurring within ten years.
The bill defines neglect as failing to provide an animal with food, water, clean shelter and medical attention. Neglect under the bill is any act or omission causing an animal unjustifiable pain, suffering or death. Any usual and customary practice in production agriculture, including all aspects of the livestock industry are not considered violations of either section.
According to the Associated Press, South Dakota is now the only state without felony penalties for animal mistreatment.
The bill was approved by the North Dakota Senate by a vote of 43-3 Tuesday before passing the House vote 80-12 on Wednesday.