South Dakota, the only remaining state in the U.S. without a law to punish serious animal abuse as a felony, finally approved legislation to do just that on Thursday. The measure, Senate Bill 46, was approved in a vote of 54 to 15, and is now headed to the desk of Gov. Dennis Daugaard for a signature or veto.
The law, which will make instances of "gross physical abuse" that cause serious injury or death to an animal a Class 6 felony, has been heavily supported by animal welfare organizations. If prosecuted under the law, violators could face up to two years in prison and a $4,000 fine.
The Governor is expected to approve the bill soon, at which point every state in the country will have a law to punish animal cruelty as a felony.