At Saturday morning's legislative cracker barrel at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City, a KOTA Territory woman pushed legislators to consider introducing a measure to increase the penalty for animal cruelty.
Jamie Al-Haj with South Dakotans Fighting Animal Cruelty Together drafted a bill that would make it a felony for anyone to abuse a dog, cat, or horse.
The bill takes on a new urgency with the investigation into 69 malnourished horses found in Pennington County.
Al-Haj said that case wouldn't qualify if it's not found to be malicious or intentional.
She also notes specific language prevents farm use and hunting from being construed as abuse, based on suggestions from neighboring states with similar laws.
"We tried to take their input and apply it to the draft bill that we have," Al-Haj said, "so it would rule out any questions and concerns."
Rep. Kristin Conzet, R-32, expressed concern over language in the proposal that would allow a court to order psychological evaluation and treatment for those found guilty.