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Animal Cruelty Bill Continues Momentum In Pierre

February 14, 2014, 9:55 PM by Jared Ransom

Animal Cruelty Bill Continues Momentum In Pierre

Animals ready for adoption at the Sioux Falls Humane Society are far away from harm, but other animals are not so lucky.

"I've seen a dog punched in the head 10 times full fist. I've seen animals left to die, no food or water," Andy Oestreich said.

An animal cruelty bill making its way through the South Dakota legislature would make those attacks a felony instead of just a misdemeanor, crimes that could include jail time. To those who work with these animals on a daily basis, it is a major step in the right direction.

"Are a lot of people going to, you know, go 'Oh, I better not do that?' There's some people that no matter what you do, they're not going to change, but at least they're going to do the time for it," Oestreich said.

It's not just animals in the home that will be protected. Animals on the farm or ranch would be just as safe.

"If people were abusing the agriculture animals, they would not be performing like they are today. They would definitely, their production would drop," Doug Ode said.

South Dakota is the only state that doesn't have a felony charge for animal cruelty, which is not a shock to farmers like Doug Ode. He says South Dakota has a good track record of animal care, but he understands why lawmakers are taking this action.

"You know, there's always an isolated incident, and I think that's the biggest concern out there, those isolated incidents," Ode said.

His only request is that legislators continue to work with livestock producers so everyone is on the same page.

"They really don't know everything that's going on out on the farm. So, we have to educate them, and it's kind of a go back and forth between. They tell us what they feel is right and we tell them what we feel," Ode said.

The bill passed unanimously in the Senate yesterday, and now it moves on for debate in the House. The penalties for an animal cruelty conviction would include a maximum two-year prison sentence and fines up to $4,000.

Take a look at Senate Bill 46.

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