North Dakota's New Animal Cruelty Law Could Turn Unsuspecting Pet Owners Into Criminals


Today the House debated the amended version of SB2211, the “animal cruelty bill.” It’s a horrendous bit of legislation adding pages of confusing new policy to our criminal statutes which is, in turn, riddled with exceptions and exemptions intended to please certain special interest groups.

That North Dakota doesn’t actually have an animal cruelty problem is apparently irrelevant. The animal rights agitators have caused such a ruckus that it was a foregone conclusion that something was going to pass (the national Human Society organization is giddy at the idea of being “one step closer” to making animal abusers felons).

But there are some major flaws in this law, and one was pointed out by Rep. Rick Becker arguing against final passage. He points out that the law requires pet owners to provide “necessary medical attention” to their pets lest they be guilty of criminal animal neglect:

Should you be a criminal if you decide the cost of some expensive treatment or procedure for your pet is too expensive? You shouldn’t be, but under this law you would be.

Which is ridiculous not only from the perspective of criminalizing perfectly innocent, well-meaning pet owners but also from the perspective of trying to enforce this. Are we going to put cops in the exam room with veterinarians and pet owners to ensure they say yes to every “necessary” medical procedure?

Sadly, the House passed this ridiculous bill on a 80 – 12 vote.