Proposal would make some animal cruelty a felony in NDBISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota has one of the nation’s weakest laws against animal cruelty, activists said while submitting a citizen initiative Tuesday that would make it a felony to severely mistreat a cat, dog or horse.
By: DALE WETZEL, The Associated Press
BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota has one of the nation’s weakest laws against animal cruelty, activists said while submitting a citizen initiative Tuesday that would make it a felony to severely mistreat a cat, dog or horse.
“We have waited on the Legislature, but unfortunately, (tougher animal cruelty laws) haven’t come to pass,” said Karen Thunshelle, of Minot, the chairwoman of the initiative campaign. “So we’re taking this directly to the people.”
Thunshelle, accompanied by about a dozen supporters, lugged boxes of petitions to Secretary of State Al Jaeger’s office Tuesday. Thunshelle said the petitions had more than 25,000 signatures.
The signatures of at least 13,452 North Dakota voters are needed to qualify for the November ballot. Jaeger has about a month to decide whether the petitions are sufficient.
The proposed North Dakota initiative makes acts of “aggravated animal cruelty” against a cat, dog or horse a felony, punishable by up to five years in state prison and a $5,000 fine. The maximum punishment for violating North Dakota’s existing animal mistreatment laws is a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.
The measure defines cruelty in a number of specific terms, including burning, suffocating, blinding, disemboweling and death by beating or dragging. It says people convicted of felony animal cruelty could be required to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, and ordered not to own a dog, cat or horse for up to five years.
North Dakota farm groups are fighting the measure. The North Dakota Farm Bureau, Farmers Union and Stockmen’s Association issued a statement Tuesday calling the initiative “poorly worded” and saying it “could spell trouble even for those who are doing right by animals.”