Changes to Animal Cruelty Bill | VideoJessica Roose | 2/5/2013
Animal cruelty took the spotlight last week when more than a hundred horses died and another hundred were seized from a Morton County land owner. Now lawmakers are discussing legislation that could have an impact on future cases like this.
"The amendment itself came about because there was a lot of controversy about how to handle neglect, abuse and care of animals across the state," said Senator Larry Luick (R) from Fairmount.
The amendments would change when an offence is classified as a felony. The bill had stated that it would be after the first offense.
"The felony count was very controversial statewide. So what we did was we added in one more count of the misdemeanor. So now the third time it becomes a felony," Luick said.
The part of the amendment that got the most attention was a section that says if a violation involves a herd or group of animals of the same species it is counted as a single incident. Luick says it would it would be up to the prosecutors to decide if the incident should be counted this way or in extreme and intentional cases, per animal.
"I`m not seeing prosecutorial discretions in the language. So I think I`m going to have to vote against these amendments and I would urge others to do so, too," said Senator Connie Triplett (D) from Grand Forks.
"This is exactly the spirit of what the working group of this bill wanted to do. But it provides a little bit more of what the people in agriculture needs," said Senator Joe Miller (R) from Park River.
The amendment passed on the floor by a vote of 34 to 13.
The bill will go back to committee and be discussed again tomorrow.