June 15, 2014


 South Dakota is last state to make animal cruelty a felony

​Posted May 28, 2014 

South Dakota has designated animal cruelty as a felony, meaning that every state and the District of Columbia now has felony penalties for animal cruelty. 

On March 14, the governor of South Dakota signed a bill to amend the state’s law on animal cruelty, including designating some violations as class 6 felonies. Exemptions from the statute include medical treatment under direct and proper care of a licensed veterinarian, standard and accepted agricultural pursuits, and animal husbandry practices. 

Previously, South Dakota was the only remaining state without felony penalties for animal cruelty. North Dakota enacted felony penalties in 2013, and Idaho did so in 2012. 

The AVMA policy “Animal Abuse and Animal Neglect” states: “The AVMA considers it the responsibility of the veterinarian to report such cases to appropriate authorities, whether or not reporting is mandated by law.” The AVMA provides information about state reporting requirements here.