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Kristie Skunberg, Fargo, Published July 03 2012

ND animal cruelty ballot initiative will do what Legislature failed to do

North Dakota is one of only two states that classifies even the most extreme forms of animal cruelty as a mere misdemeanor. You’ve probably heard about two groups that are trying to strengthen our animal cruelty laws: North Dakotans to Stop Animal Cruelty and North Dakotans for Responsible Animal Care. I applaud anyone or any group that wants to strengthen our animal cruelty laws. Let’s simply clarify the approach each of these groups is taking.

North Dakotans to Stop Animal Cruelty – ballot initiative: This group is gathering signatures to get an initiative on the November ballot. This will allow the people of North Dakota to vote on strengthening our laws.

North Dakotans for Responsible Animal Care – proposed legislation: This group has proposed legislation. This means the Legislature has to pass their bill to strengthen our laws.

The Legislature has failed for years to address our weak animal cruelty laws. Did you know they refused to even study the issue last year? There are no guarantees that the Legislature will pass any bill. That is why I support the ballot initiative of North Dakotans to Stop Animal Cruelty. Their measure is narrowly crafted to make the worst types of cruelty – such as maliciously or intentionally burning, crushing, suffocating, impaling or dismembering an animal – a felony. All other types of cruelty will still be covered by the existing North Dakota statute.

Their measure is limited to dogs, cats and horses, so it does not have any impact on hunting, farming, fishing, ranching or other legal activities. If the Legislature wants to pass additional protections for animals in the future, they can do so with a simple majority vote.

This isn’t about whose group is “better.” It’s about protecting animals and strengthening our laws. With the Legislature’s track record on this issue, are you willing to leave it up to them? I’m not. Get involved at www.NDStopCruelty.com; sign up to gather signatures or sign my petition.