In a desperate attempt to pass a poorly worded, narrow-focused ballot measure, North Dakotans to Stop Animal Cruelty has tried to disparage the North Dakota Animal Stewards’ integrity with false information about the group’s record. It has accused the NDAS of blocking cruelty laws in the Legislature and has discounted the group’s concern for animals. But the facts don’t match the assertions.
NDAS members care for thousands of animals in their respective capacities every day. NDAS members have also long championed animal treatment issues in the legislature. Here are a couple of examples: In 2009, they initiated successful legislation to add a field investigator to the Board of Animal Health team to investigate inhumane complaints and educate animal owners about animal health laws.
In 2011, they initiated successful legislation that added a stewardship position with research and extension responsibilities at North Dakota State University to help animal owners improve animal care.
That same year, they also supported the continued study of and work on animal treatment law enhancements. While that bill did not pass, a dedicated group of pet shelter workers, veterinarians, farmers, ranchers, zookeepers and regulators, including many NDAS members, continued the work it had started earlier and has drafted a comprehensive, meaningful legislative bill to strengthen and clarify the state’s animal treatment laws for the upcoming session.
Measure 5 proponents complain that the Legislature failed them when it did not pass the study bill last year, yet not one of the members of the Measure 5 sponsoring committee even testified on the animal treatment bill during the last legislative session. Not one.
If you care about animals, you should reject Measure 5 and put your support into the legislative bill draft being presented in two months. How is it different than Measure 5?
The legislation addresses all animals and all types of mistreatment — including the most commonly seen forms, which Measure 5 omits. The legislation includes definitions to clarify the law’s intent, as well as the role of law enforcement, veterinarians, shelters and others in responding to mistreatment cases.
The legislation includes an array of penalties, ranging from infractions to felonies, so the punishment matches the severity of the crime. And, unlike Measure 5, the legislation has broad-based support from North Dakota’s animal stakeholders.
Julie Ellingson, St. Anthony, North Dakota Stockmen’s Association, North Dakota Animal Stewards member, Bismarck
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