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Forum Communications, Published December 18 2012

Group: North Dakota one of ‘best’ states to be an animal abuser

GRAND FORKS - Weak animal protection laws landed North Dakota on a list noting the five “best” states to be an animal abuser, according to an animal welfare organization.

The state’s flimsy animal protection laws earned it a rank of No. 2, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Kentucky was indentified as the best state for abusers for the sixth year in a row. Rounding out the top five were Iowa, South Dakota and New Mexico.

The worst states for animal abusers, or the states with the best animal cruelty laws, are Illinois, Maine, California, Oregon and Michigan, according to ALDF.

The organization’s annual state report ranks all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories on the general comprehensiveness and relative strength of their respective animal protection laws.

Animal torture, extreme neglect, abandonment and sexual assault are not considered felony offenses in North Dakota, resulting in its poor ranking, according to ALDF.

North Dakota and South Dakota are the only states without a felony animal abuse penalty, the organization said.

In November, two-thirds of North Dakota voters rejected Measure 5, which would have created felony provisions for “maliciously and intentionally” harming a living cat, dog or horse. Groups such as North Dakota Animal Stewards and North Dakotans for Responsible Animal Care have called for the introduction of legislation that would strengthen North Dakota’s animal protection laws in the 2013 legislative session. Lawmakers have said they intend to address the issue.