Thursday, June 5, 2014

South Dakota, The Last State to Make Animal Cruelty A Felony

I firmly believe that you cannot have a place in your heart for animals and not a penalty on your books for abusing them.

Well, after about two decades the last state in the union, South Dakota, has joined the rest of us in making animal cruelty a felony.

Why is it important to members of society? Well, we know that there is a strong correlation between domestic violence and animal abuse. Studies state that 70 - 80% of domestic violence victim reported previous or concurrent animal abuse. Being able to prosecute  a person for acts of cruelty against a pet might save a child or spouse from years of abuse. Seems difficult to argue that doesn't it? Why wouldn't we want to have laws to punish people who inflict harm? Well, that's a good question and the answer to that is one of the reasons it has taken so many years to pass a cruelty law.

People opposed this law because they don't want the same rules and laws to apply to farm animals. Why? Well, I suppose they have a reason it is just not one that I understand. Cruelty is cruelty. Can there be a difference in that if the victim is something other than a person?

What is the role of the veterinarian in helping to protect people and pets? It's a tenuous and difficult answer. It is so difficult that in all cases it is a case by case answer. Do veterinarians report? Yes, a very few. Why, not more of them? Well, some veterinarians might not want to report because they feel that they should only report if they are SURE it is abuse, and, we make a living from the public bringing in their pets. If word got out that we are reporting our clients many vets worry that clients will not come in. Of course, that's a ridiculous thing for me to understand. I see my job as being the advocate for the pet. Taking care of them is my responsibility, and I could never live with myself IF I didn't say something and someone was being hurt.

What can we do? Well, we are all neighbors, friends, relatives, teachers, civil servants, and caregivers. We are all responsible for watching over each other. Talk to your friends, be a shoulder to lean on, and get help if you think someone, or something is in danger.

The best kind of selfie?
One with friend.

Me, well, I am always a shoulder to lean on and a kennel to house a pet in need of a safe place (did you know many women won't leave a dangerous home because they fear for their pets and many women's shelters can't house to stay.


Facts About Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence, by the American Humane Association

Domestic Violence and Animal Cruelty, by the ASPCA

The Veterinarians Legal Role In Animal Cruelty Cases, ASPCA

For more information on South Dakota's law see; petition.

Rapid City Journal article.

If you have a pet question of any kind, you can find me anytime at Pawbly.comIt is free to use and open to all of those who serve, love, and care for pets.

You can also find me at the clinic, Jarrettsville Vet, in Jarrettsville Maryland. Or, find me on Twitter, @FreePetAdvice.


  1. I was a domestic violence/sexual assault counselor for nearly 25 years. Because of women's reluctance to leave their pets behind, my agency worked with the local Humane Society to provide foster homes for the pets of women seeking to leave violent relationships. The agency I worked for also sponsored kennels at the Humane Society to show our awareness of the link between animal cruelty and violence towards women and children.

    1. Thank you for all of the work you did, and continue to do, to help others. It takes a village to protect, educate, and shelter each other through the storms of life. It is only done through people like you.
      Hats off to you! We never say Thank-You enough to our counselors.
      Much Love,

  2. Thank you for writing this. I wish more vets would report abuse. Even neglect is important to report. My husband used to be an ACO and in one case a neighbor called to report a badly neglected chain dog (no food, water or shelter). When he investigated it turned out that there was also a badly neglected senior (the grandmother) in the home. Adult protective services became involved and although we never did find out how the case resolved at least we knew the proper authorities were involved.

    For a variety of reasons I feel that reporting should be mandated by law. I don't believe that human doctors saw any reduction in the number of human clients visiting their practices when it became a requirement for human medical practices to report suspected abuse and I don't feel it would have any real significant impact on vets either.

    Maybe a client here and there... sure that's possible. However, I feel like any client who would be "lost" probably was not a big financial supporter of the practice to begin with.

    1. Hello,

      Many thanks for reading and for adding your story. I think it will take a whole lot of talking and educating so that people understand the connection between pet abuse and abuse to people.. Protecting a pet might save another life..

      Keep talking about your story and your viewpoints, that's how laws and beliefs change for the common good.

      Take Care, And I'll keep an eye out on my end.