North Dakotans reject initiative to charge extreme animal abusers with felony
Measure 5 on the North Dakota ballot failed Tuesday. The Prevention of Extreme Cruelty to Dogs, Cats, and Horses Act proposed to make the charge a class C felony for anyone who "maliciously and intentionally burns, poisons, crushes, suffocates, impales, drowns, blinds, skins, beats to death, drags to death, exsanguinates, disembowels, or dismembers" a living dog, cat or horse.
The North Dakota Animal Stewards was formed in opposition to Measure 5. The coalition included 20 organizations, from the Milk Producers Association of North Dakota to the North Dakota Veterinary Technicians Association, according to its website. The group presented a four-point stance against the bill, claiming the measure wouldn't improve animal treatment, that it was crafted and funded by an outside organization—the Humane Society of the United States, that it would have interfered with current welfare improvement efforts by the North Dakotans for Responsible Animal Care, and that it would have impeded citizens' ability to shape animal care laws.
Supporters of the bill stood with North Dakotans to Stop Animal Cruelty. This coalition of citizens, organizations and veterinary professionals felt that current laws were too weak. According to its website, the group wanted the option to charge those involved with extreme forms of cruelty with a felony, give judges the option to require abusers to undergo psychological counseling and to prohibit future animal ownership.
The bill failed, with 65 percent of voters rejecting the measure.