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Politics & Government

Animal cruelty initiative supporters readying for campaign

Members of a group pushing for a new felony animal cruelty law say they deliberately limited the language so that agricultural practices would not be affected.

The initiated measure makes intentional cruelty to cats, dogs and horses a class “C” felony, punishable by a maximum five years in prison and a $5000 fine. The measure’s opponents point to the involvement of the Humane Society of the United States, and say HSUS may see this is as a way to gain a foothold in North Dakota, and add farm animals to the law.

Supporters say that's not the intent.

"It is worded very carefully, to not interfere with our agriculture or hunting heritage," said Karen Thunshelle  of Minot, who chairs North Dakotans to Stop Animal Cruelty.  "It's worded for our state."

Thunshelle said her group has farmers, ranchers, veterinarians and animal shelter directors from across North Dakota.

"There are absolutely no ill intentions here," said Thunshelle. "We feel it's pertinent to get something on the books for intentional, malicious acts of animal torture."

Thunshelle says her group is planning its efforts to get the measure passed in the November election.

"We will get the word out through all of our great volunteers," said Thunshelle. "We'll do some family events, and we have many endorsers who will send materials. A lot of public outreach, just to get our message out."

Thunshelle said media advertising is possible. But she said with all the various campaign advertising already on the airwaves, it could be very expensive for her group to run ads.

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