Animal rights laws in the U.S. have been cracking down on animal abuse offenders, but we’ve still got a long way to go. According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), South Dakota is far behind other states in enacting laws that help protect animals and prosecute abusers.
The HSUS rankings reflect the success and failure of Humane Society-backed legislation. Since 2009, the Humane Society in South Dakota has been unsuccessful in getting a bill passed to make torture of companion animals a felony. While it has not succeeded in the past, it plans to again push for legislation in 2012.
According to a rep from the Humane Society in South Dakota, the bill has just not become a priority yet. While lawmakers are receptive to it, they have not given enough attention to this issue. Right now, animal cruelty is a Class 1 misdemeanor in South Dakota, meaning it carries a maximum punishment of one year in county jail, a $2,000 fine or both.
South Dakota’s Humane Society wants to make intentional torture of a dog or cat to be a Class 6 felony—the lowest felony level in the state. Max penalties would include two years in prison, a $4,000 fine or both. The promotion of animal fighting is already a Class 6 felony in South Dakota.
Your friends at TAILS hope South Dakota is successful in passing the law to make animal torture a felony in 2012. You can see how your state fairs in the HSUS’s Humane State Rankings by clicking here.