The state Senate has unanimously approved a measure that would make animal cruelty a felony in South Dakota, the only state without a felony penalty for cases involving severe animal abuse.
Similar bills failed in past years. But this year's bill was written in an effort that included an animal welfare group and many agricultural groups.
Current South Dakota law makes inhumane treatment of animals a misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $2,000 fine. The neglect, abandonment or mistreatment of an animal would remain a misdemeanor in the bill.
The measure would make cruelty to animals a felony punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine of $4,000. Accepted practices for raising livestock would not be considered mistreatment or cruelty.
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