Law Strengthens Animal Cruelty Laws - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Law Strengthens Animal Cruelty Laws

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A law to strengthen the penalties given to those who abuse, neglect, abandon or mistreat animals is officially on the books.

"I can tell you that it was a lot of hard work on behalf of a number of different organizations in North Dakota. We worked on it for a couple of years. I happen to be the North Dakota Veterinary Medical Association's representative, and we put a lot of time and effort into presenting the legislation to our legislators and getting the bill passed," says Dr. Del Rae Martin.

The law makes it a class A misdemeanor to neglect, abuse or abandon an animal, and a class C felony in cases of cruelty or if an individual has committed more than two cases of abuse in within ten years.

So, for example, while the case is still pending, the Cass county man accused of running a puppy mill near Fargo last month could have faced tougher penalties had he been caught after August 1st.

"Rather than just being a misdemeanor, the prosecutors and law enforcement would have a chance to look at it and look at the situations. And as they gather their information, they could decide whether it would be animal neglect, animal cruelty, animal abuse and the different levels there on that," says Dr. Martin.

The law also takes into consideration those who work with livestock and normal hunting practices.

"I don't think anybody in the agriculture field or as pet shelters, zoos, pet owners have anything to worry about unless they're just not acting appropriately. Bad actors will be dealt with," says Doug Goehring.

The law also says that if a violation involves multiple animals, whether they are of the same species or not, it is considered to be a single offense.

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