North Dakota passes bill to make animal cruelty a felony

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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.

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Wyoming  |  April, 25, 2013 at 09:14 AM

"Any usual and customary practice in production agriculture, including all aspects of the livestock industry are not considered violations of either section." As a hog farmer said, "Only the least-cost producer survives in agriculture." So, when the market becomes more competitive, feed becomes more expensive, meatpacker consolidation continues, CAFOs rule the day, and the cameras go away with ag-gag laws, don't the CAFOs ultimately determine themselves what is "usual and customary practice"? Where is the consideration for animal suffering?

SD  |  April, 27, 2013 at 09:29 AM

Since when does what one hog producer says rule an industry? Yes, keeping costs low are important to any business. NEWSFLASH: agriculture, including raising food animals on a sustainable scale IS a BUSINESS! It may well be a lifestyle for some, but it MUST be regarded and conducted as a BUSINESS or it is likely to fail. AND most certainly, the IRS will treat it as a "hobby". The producer of high quality animals may not be the lowest cost producer, and still be successful due to people being more willing to pay for quality foods. Stresses animals are not the most profitable animals. Abusive treatment causes animals to be stressed. Most farmers/ranchers are wise enough to understand they cannot mistreat animals and survive in raising food animals. CAFO's are not evil. They have to be well managed to be successful. They are the most regulated of agricultural enterprises, are they not? Check some 'small, family farms or feedlots, and you will see more pollution running of them than from the large CAFO's, from what I've seen driving back roads and even superhiways over the past sixty years! More food animal producers look to Veterinarians and Animal Science experts for advice on what is "usual and customary practice" in caring for our animals today. I seriously doubt any treatments of our animals is any more traumatic than medical practice used on ourselves and our children, from birth to our last days. And they are not done without consideration for both the animal and the end product, the meat product and the safety and well being of all people and animals involved. Most people raising animals do it because they truly love the animals.

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