South Dakota passes law to make animal cruelty a felony


S.D. was the last of the 50 states to adopt such legislation.

South Dakota has adopted state Senate Bill 46, making malicious acts of animal cruelty a felony offense. Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed the bill in March, which makes the state—a longtime holdout—the 50th state to adopt such legislation.

Under the new law, animal cruelty is a felony punishable by up to two years in prison and a $4,000 fine. It also makes owning, possessing, keeping or training any animal with the intent to use it in animal fighting a felony as well. Spectators at animal fighting exhibitions are subject to a misdemeanor violation. Animal neglect, abandonment and mistreatment remain misdemeanor offenses.

With the passage of S.B. 46, every state in the United States including the District of Columbia has some form of felony animal cruelty law. North Dakota was the second-to-last state to make animal cruelty a felony, passing its legislation in 2013.

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