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Amy Kracht, Fargo, Published October 10 2012

Letter: Take animal cruelty seriously

North Dakotans concerned about our lax animal welfare laws have lobbied the Legislature for years, asking them to enact meaningful animal cruelty laws. The Legislature has refused to act. In their last session they voted down a proposal to even study the issue of animal cruelty.

If Measure 5 passes, it will become a felony to commit the worst acts of cruelty to a dog, cat or horse. The measure was carefully drafted and will protect North Dakota traditions such as hunting, farming and rodeos. The measure gives judges the option of sentencing an animal abuser to up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000, to mandate they receive psychological counseling, and to prohibit them from acquiring or owning a dog, cat or horse for a period of up to five years. This is just common-sense justice for these cruel acts.

Currently, North Dakota is one of only two states that punishes even the most extreme forms of animal cruelty as mere misdemeanors. The people of North Dakota are ready for this change. It was North Dakotans who circulated these petitions, it was North Dakotans who signed the petitions, and it will be North Dakotans who enact this into law come Nov. 6.

The success of this ballot initiative will not stop the Legislature from passing an even tougher animal cruelty law in 2013 if they choose to do so. In fact, a ballot measure approved by voters statewide would send a message to elected officials that they must begin to take animal cruelty seriously. Please consider reading the initiative in its entirety at www.NDStopCruelty.com.

Kracht is vice president, 4 Luv of Dog Rescue, Fargo.