A South Dakota legislative panel has endorsed a measure that would make animal cruelty a felony in South Dakota, the only state without felony penalties for serious animal abuse.
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.
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.
The Senate Agriculture Committee rejected a similar measure last year amid worries it could interfere with the livestock industry. The panel voted unanimously Tuesday to pass the compromise bill.
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