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Published June 23, 2012, 06:34 PM

Group fights to change the animal cruelty laws in North Dakota

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- North Dakota has one of the weakest animal cruelty laws in the nation, and a group is fighting to change that.

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- North Dakota has one of the weakest animal cruelty laws in the nation, and a group is fighting to change that.

The North Dakotans to Stop Animal Cruelty group got together at West Acres Mall today -- getting signatures to help change the laws surrounding animal cruelty.

As shoppers strolled the mall, some stopped for food, others for clothes... And hundreds stopped to sign a petition that would make animal cruelty a class C felony rather than just a misdemeanor.

Ed Ahonen: "I have always felt that cruelty to animals has never been followed through, for the prevention, of that sort of thing."

Ed Ahonen says he supports legislation that would ensure animal abusers would walk away with more than a slap on the wrist.

"I feel bad mostly when I read or see some abuse."

North Dakota is only one of two states that does not have this type of legislation. South Dakota is the other.

Ed Ahonen/Signed Petition: "That tells me they are not taking care of the pets."

Volunteer Kristie Skunberg says it's time North Dakota joins the rest of the nation, and make animal cruelty charges more strict for anyone hurting helpless animals.

Kristie Skunberg: "The legislator has failed time and time again to pass a law like this, and actually in the last session they voted down to even research the issue, so we feel that animals dogs, cats, and horses shouldn't have to wait any longer, that's why we've gone to this process."

Over 13 thousand signatures are needed to put a animal cruelty measure on the November ballot.

Kristie Skunberg: "Our goal is about 17 thousand, so we have a little buffer."

If enough signatures are collected the new legislation will allow the people of North Dakota to vote and so far, many people are standing behind the animals. All signatures need to be collected by the first week of August.

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