Guest Post: Measure 5 Is The Wrong Way For North Dakota
On Election Day, North Dakota will make an important decision about how we handle animal welfare. Washington, D.C., special interest group the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is buying ads to tell us that a “No” vote on Measure 5 means you don’t care about dogs, cats, and horses. Nothing could be further from the truth.
There are 5 reasons that Measure 5 is wrong for North Dakota:
1. Measure 5 does not improve animal welfare in our state.
Measure 5 is narrowly and poorly written to include only three species of animals. While that sounds perfectly fine at first glance, Measure 5 does not address the most common forms of animal abuse, but instead focuses on heinous, mortal acts that rarely occur in our state. In fact, media records show that only 2 cases of animal abuse in the last 20 years would be covered under Measure 5. These shortfalls have prompted the North Dakota Veterinary Medical Association to recommend a “No” vote.
Measure 5 ignores the most common forms of animal abuse in North Dakota and does not even include most animals in our state. This is poor legislation, because it will not even accomplish its stated goal. In fact, it could harm efforts to improve animal welfare.
2. Measure 5 could complicate efforts by North Dakota stakeholders to improve animal welfare legislation.
For several years, many agricultural and animal-welfare groups in North Dakota have been working with the state veterinarian’s office and the state legislature to pass comprehensive animal welfare reform. This is not animal-rights legislation, these are guidelines agreed upon by the stakeholders of North Dakota – farmers, ranchers, veterinarians, zoo professionals, and local pet shelters. The working group that is behind this solution, North Dakotans for Responsible Animal Care, deserves a chance to get real reform through our legislature without interference from out-of-state groups.
3. Measure 5 is being funded by out-of-state special interests that have attacked hunting and property rights in North Dakota.
Just like Measure 5, HSUS sounds great at first. Who would oppose a humane society? The problem is that HSUS is not an umbrella group for our hardworking local humane societies – it is a national animal rights powerhouse that opposes agriculture and hunting at every turn. HSUS’s commitment to local shelters is so weak that they contribute less than 1% of their nearly $150 million budget to local shelters.
What does HSUS spend their money on? Well, two years ago, they spent $148,000 attacking hunting and property rights on the 2010 ballot’s Measure 2. They have also campaigned against agriculture through initiatives in Florida, Arizona, California, Missouri and other places.
Measure 5 was not written by or for North Dakotans. The proponent’s website is even owned by HSUS. For these and many other reasons, the Humane Society of Fargo-Moorhead, a real shelter, recommends a “No” vote on Measure 5.
4. Measure 5 could have unintended consequences that put people who care for animals in danger.
The language is written to illicit an emotional response – heinous acts that no one agrees with are laid out to supposedly protect dogs, cats, and horses. But what happens if a rancher has a severely injured horse that is suffering? What if the nearest veterinarian is hours away? Is that person guilty of a felony for humanely euthanizing his horse? Measure 5 is unclear on this front.
The sentencing provisions for Measure 5 include psychological counseling and, at a judge’s discretion, prohibiting offenders from owning a dog, cat, or horse for 5 years. This means that it is possible for a rancher to serve jail time, pay a fine, be required to undergo psychological counseling at their own expense, and be banned from owning a horse for the crime of ending a horse’s suffering. That’s a risk we cannot take.
5. North Dakota Animal Stewards is made up of real North Dakotans and member-led North Dakota organizations that oppose Measure 5.
HSUS has brought in campaign operatives from out-of-state to push Measure 5, but real North Dakotans are opposing it. The breadth and depth of the opposition alone should tell every voter that Measure 5 is wrong for North Dakota:
North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives
North Dakota Veterinary Technicians Association
North Dakota Farmers Union
North Dakota Farm Bureau
North Dakota Stockmen’s Association
North Dakota Fur Hunters & Trappers Association
North Dakota Grocers Association
…and many more, including endorsements from the Humane Society of Fargo-Moorhead, Cats Cradle Shelter, many veterinarians and veterinarian offices.
Join us in voting “No” on Measure 5. To learn more, visit www.NDAnimalStewards.com.
Jason Schmidt is the chairman of North Dakota Animal Stewards.Tags: animal cruelty, election 2012, guest posts, measure 5, North Dakota News