The opponents of Measure 5 can’t find any substantive reason to oppose felony penalties for malicious and intentional cruelty to dogs, cats and horses. So instead of arguing on the merits, they just attack the Humane Society of the United States, the nation’s largest animal protection organization, which is a supporter of the measure.
Let’s set the record straight. The HSUS provided direct care for more than 76,000 animals in 2011, and 60,000 so far in 2012 — rescuing animals from puppy mills, dogfighting and cockfighting rings, cat hoarding and horse neglect cases and natural disasters, and providing spaying and neutering, veterinary treatment, and other hands-on services in North Dakota and here in Montana.
But we know we can’t rescue our way out of these problems. Our primary mission is to prevent cruelty before it happens, and before animals end up homeless and in distress. That’s why we need strong laws on the books to prevent the worst forms of cruelty to animals, like Measure 5.
Measure 5 creates tougher penalties for some extreme acts of cruelty, but does not nullify any provisions of North Dakota’s anti-cruelty law. It’s still a crime to neglect or abuse other animals — the penalties for those activities are dictated by the penalties called for in existing law. Measure 5 protects animals now — and passing it does nothing to prevent the legislature from further strengthening anti-cruelty laws in the future.
And Measure 5 protects farmers, ranchers and hunters — it specifically would not apply to production agriculture, hunting, trapping, fishing, rodeos and other North Dakota traditions.
Lawmakers in Montana passed a law like this 20 years ago, and Minnesota legislators took action more than a decade ago. Oklahoma did it more than a century ago — in 1887! It’s time for North Dakota to pass Measure 5, becoming the 49th state with strong penalties for cruelty.
The HSUS proudly joins with local animal shelters, rescue groups, veterinarians, farmers and pet lovers across North Dakota urging a yes vote on Measure 5.
Wendy Hergenraeder, The Humane Society of the United States, Montana state director, Billings, Mont.