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Animal Cruelty Laws Focus for State Senator Shantel Krebs

Lonely Horse
(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

It seems that issues find their way to the Statehouse in Pierre.  Legislators and constituents have their pet projects that need to be addressed on a widespread level.

One of the missions that is furthered by Senator Shantel Krebs pertains to animal cruelty.  She states that South Dakota is behind the curve when it comes to penalties for people who treat animals badly.  “What it boils down to is in the last two or three years, we’ve had concerns in organizations and individuals commenting that we are the only state in the nation that does not have a felony (punishment) for animal cruelty.”

The meaning for this disparity is construction a statute that meets the needs of both the advocates for animals and livestock producers.  “There’s concerns in how far these rules go so as not to impede upon a livestock producer.  You see in other states where they’re making it almost impossible to be successful because of unrealistic regulations.”

There was a bill introduced in the 2013 session, but was voted down for lack of balance.  Thus, for the last 8 months the ideal language for an animal cruelty measure has been the quest of Krebs.  “I said to Dr. (Dustin) Odekoven our State Veterinarian, ‘We need to have a compromise here.  Please try to come together with agricultural groups and the Humane Society.  Because if you don’t do it, (the next step) is a ballot measure.’  I feel it would eventually come to that.  Unfortunately, people don’t know the implications if you say animal cruelty for everything.”

Now that some time has been taken to prepare a proper statue that works for livestock producers and the humane society, Krebs feels the chances are greater that a law will be passed.  “We made sure to clearly define animal neglect and animal abuse.  Animal neglect is when somebody wants to but can’t afford to feed their horse.  Animal abuse is intentional, willful and malicious acts which would invoke the felony status.  It was just being proactive and making sure that our livestock industry was very involved with this process.”  The law originates from the State Veterinarian and the Department of Agriculture as opposed to being brought to the Legislature by an elected Representative or Senator.


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