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Alison Smith, Published January 27 2012

North Dakota animal cruelty laws among weakest in United States

As a resident of North Dakota, I can be sure that my fellow North Dakotans stand by me in being upset and ashamed of our state’s low rankings in animal cruelty laws. North Dakota is an agricultural state where livestock and other animals play a huge part. We respect and love these animals, and the proper laws are necessary to protect them and our community as a whole. Those who intentionally hurt or abuse animals are more likely to target human victims and be the cause of crimes, domestic violence and even child abuse.

North Dakota ranked 48th in the nation when compared to other states’ animal protection laws in a recent study by the Humane Society of the United States. We have no felony penalties for the worst animal cruelty acts, which can allow for offenders to commit and even repeat brutal acts of animal cruelty without facing dire consequences.

I, like all North Dakotans, am proud of our state and what we stand for. Our work ethic is second to none, and our compassion about our state is immeasurable. It’s time that we get on board for our animals, too.

Animals suffer every day at the hands of heartless humans. We need to be able to recognize that “some” of these brutal attacks on animals need more of a punishment than just a misdemeanor. Some of these brutal attacks and abuses need to be classified as felonies and be punishable as such. This will in turn help keep more animals safe, and perhaps encourage more people to think twice before they burn animals, toss them out of windows, stomp on them, break their bones, starve them and encourage them to fight.

There needs to be a punishment to fit the crime. North Dakota should be acting as a leader, not a follower of other states.

It is time that the people and government of North Dakota address this pressing issue and fix our state’s out-of-date animal cruelty laws.

Smith lives in Mandan, N.D.