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Judy Estenson, Published April 20 2013

Letter: Forum wrong about animal abuse measure

The recent Forum editorial on the North Dakota animal abuse bill was full of statements I see differently. I’m not sure where The Forum got its information, but I was there and I have a different perspective.

Why do you say that voters turned down the animal abuse ballot measure last fall expecting the Legislature to pass a stronger measure? I voted “no” on the measure because I feel we don’t need more legislation. We have a law and people are prosecuted.

My perception of the situation is that the cases about crimes committed against people are more important than prosecuting people for crimes against animals. If we have a so-called prosecution problem, what will be changed with new legislation?

Where are your facts to support the statement that we have an increasing incidence of cruelty to domestic pets and farm animals? I recently asked an employee at my local vet clinic if they see more animal cruelty and her response was no. I believe that most people that neglect or abuse animals do so for a variety of reasons, but most would not be considered criminals ... and definitely not felons.

North Dakota Farm Bureau had concerns about the bill from the beginning and as certain things became clear in drafting the bill, they knew they could not support the bill without amendments. The fact that a person from the Humane Society of the United States showed up at the House committee hearing was certainly no surprise but it had nothing to do with the Farm Bureau’s lack of support.

Wake up, North Dakota! This bill may have been written by North Dakotans, but it is definitely not for North Dakotans. We are independent agribusiness people. This bill, as it was originally written, needed to be “gutted” by the Legislature as it would have had unintended consequences for the people in North Dakota.

I recently read an article about a vegan. He stated that he supported humane practices in raising livestock. Then he went on to say that he wasn’t sure if you could discuss humane and animal slaughter together. People who think this way are working to limit animal agriculture in North Dakota. These animals are not human. They are our property. They are our economic livelihood. We take good care of them because we make more money when we do. It is not the government’s business to tell us how to do that.

North Dakota, please don’t be so gullible as to believe that we really have an animal cruelty problem of this magnitude. Could we please spend more time and money protecting the abused people in North Dakota? Let us not elevate animal rights over human rights.

Estenson lives near Warwick, N.D.