A measure that would make animal cruelty a felony in South Dakota is getting its first hearing in the state Legislature.
Similar bills have failed in past years. But this year's bill was written with input from livestock producers and animal welfare groups.
South Dakota law currently makes inhumane treatment of animals a misdemeanor, and some animal welfare groups have said it's the only state without felony penalties for animal mistreatment.
The bill would make it a felony to commit malicious, intentional acts of abuse that cause prolonged pain, serious physical injury or death of an animal. It also clarifies that standard accepted livestock-raising practices are not mistreatment.
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