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SD ranks last in animal protection laws; group pushing for legislation

South Dakota ranks last in the Humane Society of the United States' 2012 Humane State Ranking report issued Tuesday, an analysis of animal protection laws in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

States were graded on the strength of laws to reduce animal suffering, including animal cruelty codes, equine protection standards and wildlife management. South Dakota is one of two states (the other is North Dakota) with no felony-level penalties for egregious acts of animal cruelty, which contributes to its low ranking.

South Dakotans Fighting Animal Cruelty Together (SDFACT) is a group advocating for felony companion animal cruelty laws. The group is working on securing a 2013 bill sponsor for the most egregious acts of animal cruelty.

"Constituents in almost every South Dakota district have contacted their legislators," said Sara Parker, of Sioux Falls. "We've even reached out to South Dakota ag organizations who have voiced opposition to prior legislative efforts."

Current penalties for starting a cat on fire are the same as writing a bad check, the group says.