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Published August 07, 2012, 11:08 AM

North Dakota initiative would make some animal cruelty a felony

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A national group says North Dakota has some of the nation's weakest laws against animal cruelty, and some activists want to change that.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A national group says North Dakota has some of the nation's weakest laws against animal cruelty, and some activists want to change that.

They turned in more than 25,000 petition signatures Tuesday supporting a ballot measure that would make it a felony crime to commit "extreme cruelty" against a dog, cat or horse. At least 13,500 names are needed to qualify for the November ballot.

Secretary of State Al Jaeger has a month to decide whether the petitions are sufficient.

North Dakota has laws against mistreating animals, but the stiffest punishment for breaking them is a misdemeanor, with a year in jail.

Campaign chairwoman Karen Thunshelle says the proposed ballot measure would make cruelty against cats, dogs and horses a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

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