ND'S Measure 5 Initiative Heats Up - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

ND'S Measure 5 Initiative Heats Up

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Many North Dakotans are reconsidering Measure 5. An initiative that would increase the penalties for some acts of cruelty towards certain animals. About three weeks ago the Valley News Live Mason-Dixon poll found that 66% of people surveyed said yes to Measure 5. Which would make it a class c felony for extreme cases of animal cruelty. The most recent poll found a substantial drop, 44% supported the measure with 49% saying no.

The debate is heating up. North Dakota animal stewards are saying no to the measure while the Humane Society of the United States, unaffiliated with the F-M Humane Society, are working on getting it passed.

There's no doubt both sides of the Measure 5 initiative agree that they don't want to see animals abused. But that's not to say they see eye to eye on the measure's language.

Ellie Hayes the Campaign Coordinator for North Dakotans to Stop Animal Cruelty touches on some of the initiatives points; "things like burning, crushing, impaling, dismembering, disemboweling, and skinning alive any live dog, cat or horse. And it's increasing the penalty from a misdemeanor to a class c felony."

Hayes says it's all about increasing the penalties for such crimes. But some opposed to Measure 5 say it's language doesn't cover what type of neglect or abuse is most commonly seen across North Dakota.

Nuckhet Hendricks, the Executive Director of the F-M Humane Society says the type of abuse covered in the measure isn't enough, "the 95 percent of cruelties that happen in our state is everyday abuse, neglect, abandonment, and cruelty. And that's not covered by the ballot initiative."

While many rallied in support of Measure 5 Wednesday afternoon, Hayes says getting the measure passed would put North Dakota on the same page as 98 percent of the country. Only two states don't have a law like this. "There are already laws in the books that cover things like hoarding, malnutrition, and neglect. Those things are already misdemeanors, we're trying to increase the penalties." Explains Hayes.

But those who plan on voting no on the measure say let's go back to the drawing board and get the language right. Because getting this measure passed as is, would be a disservice according to Hendricks; "of course we want punishment for those who mistreat our animals. We cannot put a law into effect just because everybody else has it. We need to look at it and see if this is the law we want to protect our animals with. Is there something better? I'm saying there is."

At the heart of opposition to Measure 5 is the belief that it won't protect against other common forms of animal abuse like neglect or malnourishment. Also they want a law that protects all animals, not just cats, dogs, and horses.

North Dakotans to Stop Animal Cruelty, who want a yes vote, say limiting the initiative to protecting just three species keeps the law specific in preventing the worst kinds of animal cruelty.

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