East coast group ranks South Dakota least humane state

2012-02-07T05:00:00Z 2014-09-08T14:11:58Z East coast group ranks South Dakota least humane stateRuth Moon Journal staff Rapid City Journal
February 07, 2012 5:00 am  • 

The Humane Society of the United States considers South Dakota the least humane state in the nation, partly because the state does not have a number of recommended farming restrictions.

Farmers in the state say the idea that a Washington, D.C., group can legislate good ranching practices is absurd.

"I think there are a lot of misinformed people that have never seen a cow and they have no idea," said Carl Sanders, a 34-year-old rancher from near Hot Springs. "They come up with all these grandiose ideas of what they think it should be."

The state meets just eight standards on a 66-item list of humane animal policies released by the Humane Society of the United States, which ranked South Dakota 51st among the states and Washington D.C. in 2011. Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota are also among the bottom 10. North Dakota meets 13 standards and Montana and Wyoming each met 19. Nebraska meets 29 standards and Minnesota meets 24.

Sanders, who has been in the family business for 12 years, said he has a larger than average ranch. None of the standards on the Humane Society of the United States' checklist apply to his ranch, but he is careful to follow best practices.

"We just take exceptional care of our livestock," he said. "They're always fed and watered and sheltered when you can. It's just part of doing good business."

Even though South Dakota does not meet the national humane society's standards, the state still considers itself animal-friendly, especially with farming and ranching policies, said state veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven.

"Although our state law may not align with a national humane organization's legislative agenda, it works very well for South Dakota," he said.

The Humane Society of the United States' checklist includes a dozen recommended animal-fighting restrictions, a half dozen animal-cruelty penalties, 18 hunting, trapping and sale restrictions and seven farm animal restrictions. The list also includes rules for horse protection, dog breeding, exotic pet ownership and animal research.

South Dakota law does not list humane slaughter standards, according to the report. However, Oedekoven said there is a state law requiring animals to be humanely slaughtered. He oversees inspections of South Dakota slaughter facilities to make sure they meet the standards.

Ranchers, however, are skeptical of taking humane treatment recommendations from a group of non-farmers and non-ranchers.

Troy Hadrick, 35, raises cattle near Faulkton. None of the Humane Society of the United State's standards directly applies to his ranch, but said he does take care that his cattle are slaughtered humanely. Cattle slaughtered when they are stressed taste worse, so it is in everyone's best interest to keep the slaughter process calm and efficient, he said.

"I really struggle with the animal rights lobbyist group based out of D.C. knowing the best way for us to take care of our livestock as farmers and ranchers in South Dakota," Hadrick said.

There are about 17,000 livestock-producing farms and ranches in South Dakota by Oedekoven's estimate. His office responds to about 100 livestock mistreatment complaints each year. Of those, only 10 turn out to be actual cases of inhumane treatment, he said.

"We truly live in a state where animal welfare is a large part of the economy," he said. "By far the majority of the livestock producers in our state recognize that."

Some other items on the list, like a ban on selling and owning shark fins, aren't common temptations in South Dakota. Some, such as hunting restrictions, are just not important to South Dakota residents, said Darci Adams, director of the South Dakota Humane Society.

Adams said she is most concerned that South Dakota pass an animal cruelty law. She is hoping to get support for a bill making intentional torture of companion animals a Class 6 felony. The maximum penalty would be two years in prison, a $4,000 fine, or both. Dog fighting and bestiality are currently felonies in the state, she said.

"We're not working on any hunting issues right now. We're not working on any animal agriculture issues right now," Adams said. "We're focusing on what's most important to our constituents in South Dakota."

Animal cruelty is a Class 1 misdemeanor in the state with a maximum penalty of one year in county jail and a $2,000 fine. Promoting animal fighting already is a Class 6 felony, and it is a Class 1 misdemeanor to attend any sort of animal fighting.

Oedekoven said local humane societies currently handle complaints about inhumane treatment of small animals such as dogs and cats. A statewide policy would be inconvenient because different areas in the state enforce different policies, he said.

"We have a good system for addressing humane concerns in our state," he said. "Our ranking with (the Humane Society of the United States) I think is not indicative of our ability to deal with complaints."

Contact Ruth Moon at 394-8415 or ruth.moon@rapidcityjournal.com.

Copyright 2015 Rapid City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(20) Comments

  1. open-i
    Report Abuse
    open-i - February 10, 2012 2:30 pm
    spot said: "People on here please do some research into other states what has happened and you will understand why agriculture is so concerned....They start out in a state with the dog and cat issues and sure some of those issues need to be addressed. But then the following year it turns into something with chickens, then hogs then hunting, then animal research and so on and so on....Please do some independent research on your own about this organization....I know many of you would like to see felony for dog and cat issues thats fine but you have to understand if you look in states like Missouri, Ohio, California Flordia more has happened with HSUS then dogs and cats...they have affected agriculture and in a negative way.They will show all their undercover video and this and that and play it off as this is how all of ag treats their animals or ag buisness treats their animals.....Let me tell you that 95% of this countrys farms are FAMILY OWNED and operated....those undercover videos some of them are claimed to be at a specific farm between a specific time but in some cases its been found that it couldnt have been on that particultar farm because they dont even have chicken cages like the ones shown in the videos.......There is deception with this organization!!! Our farmers dont want to see their livelihoods taken away. With legislation that has happened for instance in the chicken industry in California that is what is happening. Farmers are having to get out or move because they cannot afford to comply with regulations put in place by HSUS. The regulations are based on emotion not SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH FACTUAL INFORMATION. "

    Ditto to all this, glad you typed it all out so i didn't have to!
  2. open-i
    Report Abuse
    open-i - February 10, 2012 2:24 pm
    exparte said: "As per usual, when someone points the finger at SD for deficiencies in their laws the response is "you cannot tell me what to do". Why not examine where improvement in the laws can be made? What is government for but for the protection of society? How we treat animals that are dependent on us for food and shelter is a direct reflection on the character values cherished most in society. The level of ignorance that abounds in this state always astounds me. the legislators would rather waste time creating laws that are illegal, unconstitutional and otherwise a waste of time, rather than create something truly meaningful. This is why anyone who could contribute to improving this state eventually makes their home outside of this state (despite being born here). The result is an overabundance of ignoramuses who watch FOX news for their education! "

    Try to not stick your nose up in the air too high when you make that last comment.....

    A lot of us just don't want more laws governing the way we live, we also are tired of being told how to live, if you believe in this cause so much get off your butt and make it happen, but don't stick your nose up to those of us that don't like how big our gov't is getting.
  3. nwsdcitizen
    Report Abuse
    nwsdcitizen - February 09, 2012 10:22 pm
    Eparte,

    When it comes to ignorance, I think you should look in the mirror if you think we need more laws to make what is already illegal more illegal. The state vet himself stated that they only have about 100 reports of animal abuse a year and of those only about 10 percent turn out to be abuse. This is not an issue that warrants more laws. The HSUS has a national agenda that includes more than just laws pertaining to pets. If you don't believe me check into what they have done to animal agriculture in other states like Missouri or California. You said it yourself. Our legislators are wasting time on laws we don't need. Here would be another one.

    Love4animals,

    I'm sure your heart is in the right place but if you really believe HSUS doesn't have any ulterior motives you are looking through rose colored glasses. If and that's a big if we start seeing a rise in actual animal abuse cases then let's address it and not before. Lastly, as for HSUS's ranking of us. Well that's worth less than the paper it's written on.
  4. SDdairylady
    Report Abuse
    SDdairylady - February 09, 2012 9:00 am
    As a dairy farmer I want all animals to be well cared for and unabused. The problem with the rating from HSUS is that it doesn't rank us on actual cases of animal cruelty or abuse, it ranks us on the number of laws we have. We have laws to protect animals domestic and ag related, we don't need more just because HSUS, a lobbying group, says we should have them. The people of SD are intelligent and in my opinion truly descent. Please take the time to research the agenda of HSUS before you jump on the bandwagon.
  5. Dirtroadanthem
    Report Abuse
    Dirtroadanthem - February 08, 2012 6:18 pm
    How did we go from AG animal cruelty to domestic animal abuse?
    Stupid laws dont prevent stupid people from doing stupid things.

    Dog shot with bb gun, beaten to death with hammer Pasadena, CA (US) Incident Date: Wednesday, Apr 20, 2011

    Dog beaten with hammer after hit by car Escondido, CA (US) Incident Date: Friday, Mar 27, 2009


    Can you believe that the #1 ranked state for animal rights has seen incidents of animals being killed with hammers as well? I am stunned people would still commit crimes when there are laws to prevent them.

    Animal rights groups are idiots. Dogs and cats are not herbavores so why make animal food out of plants?

    Rant over
  6. Digalittledeeper
    Report Abuse
    Digalittledeeper - February 08, 2012 2:58 pm
    Only puppies and kitties? A quick glance of the HSUS website finds their recommendation for "replacing meat and other animal-based foods in the diet with plant based foods." Try it. Search for "eating" on their own website.
  7. SDFarmWife
    Report Abuse
    SDFarmWife - February 08, 2012 1:04 pm
    Agreeing with Spot. Please make sure to do your research about what has happened in other states and why those of us involved in agriculture are concerned. This has more to do with farmers and ranchers than you would initially think. The cats and dogs are just the starting point. I think all of us would agree wholeheartedly, whether we are involved in agriculture or not, that abuse of animals is something that shouldn't happen period. But unfortunately, it does happen.
    In regards to HSUS not being against farmers and ranchers- that is so far from the truth. One of their goals is to abolish animal agriculture. Most of their funding goes towards legislative action, not towards your local animal shelters. Give locally if you want to support the cause in your community, because realistically the shelter in your hometown may see less than half a percent of what HSUS actually receives in donations per year. Spot is right- ask them how much funding they receive from HSUS and you will be surprised at their answers.
    This is obviously such a heart wrenching topic for all involved, but when HSUS moves in to a state they are aiming for more than just domestic animals, so please understand our concern as farmers and ranchers when it comes to this. We do treat our animals humanely, because we care about our livelihood and the farms that have been in our families for generations. But, taking care of our animals also makes sense because they are our business and what supports our families. It is a smart business decision to care for animals. I hate that we are setting our standards and laws based on a group that spends more money lobbying in Washington than giving money to the shelters in our towns that do need it. One thing I think we can all agree on is that we would like to see less animal abuse and the abolishment of "hammers" (which I also have no idea about). So we are all here for the right reasons, I think we just all need to be educated and informed on why farmers and ranchers are reacting in the way we are and most importantly understanding HSUS and what they are really doing in Washington.
  8. spot
    Report Abuse
    spot - February 08, 2012 9:28 am
    People on here please do some research into other states what has happened and you will understand why agriculture is so concerned....They start out in a state with the dog and cat issues and sure some of those issues need to be addressed. But then the following year it turns into something with chickens, then hogs then hunting, then animal research and so on and so on....
    Please do some independent research on your own about this organization....I know many of you would like to see felony for dog and cat issues thats fine but you have to understand if you look in states like Missouri, Ohio, California Flordia more has happened with HSUS then dogs and cats...they have affected agriculture and in a negative way.
    They will show all their undercover video and this and that and play it off as this is how all of ag treats their animals or ag buisness treats their animals.....Let me tell you that 95% of this countrys farms are FAMILY OWNED and operated....those undercover videos some of them are claimed to be at a specific farm between a specific time but in some cases its been found that it couldnt have been on that particultar farm because they dont even have chicken cages like the ones shown in the videos.......There is deception with this organization!!!

    Our farmers dont want to see their livelihoods taken away. With legislation that has happened for instance in the chicken industry in California that is what is happening. Farmers are having to get out or move because they cannot afford to comply with regulations put in place by HSUS. The regulations are based on emotion not SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH FACTUAL INFORMATION.
  9. Frank Smith
    Report Abuse
    Frank Smith - February 08, 2012 9:20 am
    "...beat your neighbors dog to death with a hammer and get a slap on the wrist. Or kill your OWN CAT with a hammer..."



    I had no idea that this hammer problem was so big... Clearly we need to ban hammers, or have a hammer waiting period with backgorund check.

  10. spot
    Report Abuse
    spot - February 08, 2012 9:20 am
    For those of you that say this has nothing to do with ag....to be blunt you are WRONG! This is article is NOT about the felony to cruelty to animals (I can maybe get behind that law) its about HSUS ranking of animal care over-all. If you go to their description and criteria on how and what they rank states on MOST of the topics have to do with ANIMAL AG.

    As well as ranking our state on topics like the shark issue mentioned in the article that lets face it their are not many sharks here so that topic has nothing to do with us and we are being lumped into states that specific issues affect them and we do not have all the issues other states do. So why would we waste time and money to make a law for it? So many of you are annoyed with our current legislator making time for non-issues like the state flag (I tend to agree waste of time) why would they waste time with issues like the shark thing and making a law for it all so we can comply with a WASHINGTON DC BASED LOBBYING GROUP.

    Thats right they are East Coast. Many of you on here are confused. This is not your local humane society, they do not fund or the money does not trickle down to your local humane society when you donate to them....ASk your local humane society how much money they get from the HSUS....Their answer will make you gasp!
  11. Actions Speak Louder Than Words
    Report Abuse
    Actions Speak Louder Than Words - February 07, 2012 5:00 pm
    Once again, some are comparing apples with oranges. We are in last place regarding allowing the abuse of DOMESTIC animals, NOT not ag animals. BIG difference. and it is a fact that serial killers started small, with animals, and worked their way up to people. Unfortunately, as far as our local shelter is concerned, they too do not promote spay/neuter of animals they adopt out AND look through the old RCJournal articles, they have been stolen from many times and the animals suffer.
  12. exparte
    Report Abuse
    exparte - February 07, 2012 4:02 pm
    As per usual, when someone points the finger at SD for deficiencies in their laws the response is "you cannot tell me what to do". Why not examine where improvement in the laws can be made? What is government for but for the protection of society? How we treat animals that are dependent on us for food and shelter is a direct reflection on the character values cherished most in society. The level of ignorance that abounds in this state always astounds me. the legislators would rather waste time creating laws that are illegal, unconstitutional and otherwise a waste of time, rather than create something truly meaningful. This is why anyone who could contribute to improving this state eventually makes their home outside of this state (despite being born here). The result is an overabundance of ignoramuses who watch FOX news for their education!
  13. luv4animals
    Report Abuse
    luv4animals - February 07, 2012 3:10 pm
    Re Think 1....says who? You are wrong. Please, everyone, know the organizations before you jump to conclusions.
  14. think1
    Report Abuse
    think1 - February 07, 2012 1:57 pm
    The single goal of the HSUS is to put animal agriculture out of business! Never give any money to the HSUS, rather give to a local animal shelter.
  15. luv4animals
    Report Abuse
    luv4animals - February 07, 2012 12:52 pm
    shunkaska said: "Thank God!!!!! We must be doing it right if we are on the other end of this group..them and PETA, the ACLU...I own at this moment two dogs I have gotten from the humane society, the $100 a yr donations..I will now end the donations, but love these dogs till the end...."

    Before you end your donations to HSUS, please do your research. This is about cats and dogs, it has NOTHING to do with agriculture. Nothing!

    I live in Lead, I support this organization and am for felony animal cruelty against dogs and cats (companion animals). This organization isn't PETA, HSUS is NOT against hunting, they are NOT against eating meat, they are NOT against ranching. HSUS is the organization that races into natural disasters and rescues these animals. HSUS is the organization that advocates for those that are abused by humans. HSUS is the organization that supports spay/neuter programs. HSUS IS THE ORGANIZATION I support because they care about the animals on this earth. If they weren't there, who would take care of the millions of animals up for adoption each year? Would you?
  16. shunkaska
    Report Abuse
    shunkaska - February 07, 2012 11:50 am
    Thank God!!!!! We must be doing it right if we are on the other end of this group..them and PETA, the ACLU...I own at this moment two dogs I have gotten from the humane society, the $100 a yr donations..I will now end the donations, but love these dogs till the end....
  17. I use common sense
    Report Abuse
    I use common sense - February 07, 2012 10:33 am
    OK, so let me get this straight, they wasted time talking about the flag, they waste time talking about commemorations and patting each other on the back, and now they waste even more time drafting a resolution against animal organizations?

    Who cares who tells us South Dakota is DEAD LAST in animal welfare, wake up people, it's the TRUTH! Only in South Dakota can you beat your neighbors dog to death with a hammer and get a slap on the wrist. Or kill your OWN CAT with a hammer, no big deal here! Don't you realize that people who abuse animals abuse people too? Don't you know the statistics from the FBI on serial killers? They started with animals! They abused, tortured and killed animals first!

    I am sick and tired of whoever has the most money gets to play in the sand box. Every one of our legislators is unwilling to stick their neck out for felony level punishment for CATS AND DOGS ONLY legislation. Why, because they need their money for re-election from the agriculture community. Because they are afraid if they stand up for what is right, they won't get re-elected. This legislation HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH AGRICULTURE. It simply states that you can not torture a cat and dog, and if you do, it's a felony. What is so wrong with that?

    Remember everyone, this is an election year. If you want to make a difference here in South Dakota, you can. Go to your local cracker barrels, ask your legislators their thoughts, put them on the spot in front of everyone. I am sure none of them support the abuse of cats and dogs, so make them say it out loud, in front of everyone. Ask them why they would not be willing to support such legislation, lets see what they have to say.

    Below is a list of the commemorations, this is what your legislators are spending time on instead of real issues, did you know this?

    HC 1001 Honoring and supporting the Scotland Kuchen Feier on the occasion of its third annual event.
    HC 1002 Recognizing and honoring the "Yellowboy" lever action repeating rifle.
    HC 1003 Commending and honoring the community of Delmont on its one hundred twenty-fifth birthday.
    HC 1004 Thanking and commending the Teach for America corps members who live and teach in South Dakota for their tremendous efforts in working to ensure that every child growing up in poverty receives an excellent education.
    HC 1005 Congratulating and honoring Rob Monson on his election as the 2011-2012 President of the National Association of Elementary School Principals.
    HC 1006 Honoring and commemorating the anniversary in 2012 of the fifty-fourth annual Schmeckfest in Freeman, South Dakota.
    HC 1007 Commending and honoring James Swan, United Urban Warrior Society.
    HC 1008 Commemorating the Madison Dairy Queen for its entrepreneurial spirit, hard work, and dedication to helping children.
    HC 1009 Commending and honoring the 2011 Habitat for Humanity South Dakota Habitat Supporters of the Year.
    HC 1010 Commending and honoring the Parker State Class B Boys' Cross Country Champions.
    HC 1011 Congratulating State Representative Kim Vanneman of Ideal, for receiving the South Dakota Corn Growers Outstanding Legislative Leadership award.
    HC 1012 Commending and honoring the Armour School District Board of Education, on receiving the Associated School Boards of South Dakota School Board Award of Excellence for 2012.

    SC 1 Commending and honoring the 2010-2011 Outstanding School Administrators of South Dakota.
    SC 2 Commending and honoring the Sioux Falls Christian Chargers Boys Soccer Team for its 2011 State A Soccer Championship.
    SC 3 Commending and honoring the Sioux Falls Christian Chargers Girls Volleyball Team for its 2011 State A Volleyball Championship.
    SC 4 Congratulating and commending Brady Hale, Sydney Palmer, and Bailey Kortan for their outstanding performances at the NFL's 2011 Punt, Pass, and Kick Competition.
    SC 5 Honoring the Sioux Falls Roosevelt High School Boys' Cross Country Team for its outstanding performance at the 2011 Boys' State Class AA Cross Country Meet.
    SC 6 Congratulating the Sioux Falls Roosevelt High School Football Team and its coaches and student managers for their 2011 South Dakota State AA Championship season.
    SC 7 Honoring Beth Mayrose of Salem, South Dakota Girls State Governor, and Jack Gordon of Sioux Falls, South Dakota Boys State Governor; and commending the South Dakota American Legion and Auxiliary for their sponsorship and coordination of the Girls State and Boys State programs.
    SC 8 Honoring Cheryl Wait of the city of Hot Springs as 2011 Municipal Finance Officer of the Year.
    SC 9 Honoring Mayor Laurie Gill of Pierre as the 2011 winner of the South Dakota Municipal League Excellence in Municipal Government Award.
  18. Poplicola
    Report Abuse
    Poplicola - February 07, 2012 9:22 am
    Who wrote that headline? Do you call it an East Coast group when a conservative think tank based in the very same city releases a report talking about how great South Dakota is for not regulating anything?
  19. Actions Speak Louder Than Words
    Report Abuse
    Actions Speak Louder Than Words - February 07, 2012 7:24 am
    The east coast isnt the only one that put SD in LAST place, the Humane Society of the US did the same thing, AGAIN, year after year. We do not have a single legislature that will sponsor a bill to put in place a law regarding the abuse of DOMESTIC dogs and cats. We should be embarrassed and ashamed.
  20. luv4animals
    Report Abuse
    luv4animals - February 07, 2012 6:35 am
    This is NOT an east coast group, we are citizens of the state of South Dakota that want to see felony animal cruelty laws passed for companion animals like cats and dogs. Yes the HSUS came out with our state ranking, but they have nothing to do with this task force that was formed to get legislation rolling, especially in lieu of the recent hammering deaths of a cat and a dog in eastern South Dakota.

    This is common sense legislation that would benefit all South Dakotans. Most animal abusers harm humans too and this will hopefully curtail these abusers early.

    Lead, SD
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