All 50 States Now Have Felony Animal Cruelty Provisions
An Animal Rights Article from


Chris Berry, Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) / South Dakotans Fighting Animal Cruelty Together (SDFACT)
March 2014

As Winston Churchill said, “Never give up on something that you can't go a day without thinking about.”

Chris Berry: My homes state of South Dakota just became the 50th and final state to enact a felony animal creulty law.

The new law rights an injustice that previously put malicious animal abuse on a par with writing a bad check.

In 1990 less than ten states had animal cruelty felony provisions.

In the early 2000s, ALDF began tracking those laws, naming South Dakota one of the five worst states for animals in 2013.

We congratulate South Dakota and local grass roots organizations like South Dakotans Fighting Animal Cruelty Together for helping bring America’s laws in line with the humane values of the 21st century.

The new law represents the emergence of a nationwide consensus that egregious animal abuse should be treated as a serious crime. Although there is much more work left to be done, this event marks a significant milestone in an undeniable trend favoring humane treatment of animals.

FROM SDFAT South Dakotans Fighting Animal Cruelty Together

Never Give Up - Felony Animal Cruelty is Law in SD!

On March 15, Governor Daugaard signed SB 46 into law, providing felony level penalties for the most egregious acts of animal cruelty. Animal abuse is a heinous crime but it can be much more than that. Sometimes it’s a sign that people are also being abused or soon will be. The proven link between animal cruelty and human violence is well documented, and passing SB 46 is a crucial step in deterring violent offenders, ensuring community safety, and protecting animals.

As of July 1, prosecutors and judges in South Dakota will have tools they need to deal with the most malicious, willful and intentional acts of animal cruelty. We celebrate this milestone and thank you. After more than 5 years of discussing the issue and introducing legislation only to see it fail, we were able to sit down with other stakeholders and find a compromise.

As Winston Churchill said, “Never give up on something that you can't go a day without thinking about.”

We’ve certainly seen more horrific cases of animal cruelty happen in our state and stuck in our minds. So today we honor the animals that motivated all of us to advocate and change South Dakota animal cruelty laws. Maysie, Buddy, Shy and countless others provided us with the determination to see it through. We are South Dakotans Fighting Animal Cruelty Together (SD FACT) and we did it!

Thank you to the South Dakota Legislators who supported SB 46 and Governor Daugaard for signing it into law. Most of all, we thank you, the South Dakota animal advocates who never gave up. It is a good day for animals in South Dakota when we know communities and animals are protected.

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