It had to be a grim Fourth of July for Pat Powers and his friends. He lost his Bosworth-boosting freedom, his texting-while-driving freedom, and his animal-beating freedom.

Among the new laws enacted on Tuesday was South Dakota's overdue animal cruelty law. Animal cruelty, defined as "to intentionally, willfully, and maliciously inflict gross physical abuse on an animal that causes prolonged pain, that causes serious physical injury, or that results in the death of the animal," is now a felony, as it was in every other state before South Dakota finally got over its amnesiac paranoia and lies about animal activists.

But to keep Powers and his paranoid friends on their toes, South Dakotans Fighting Animal Cruelty Together, the group that led the fight for South Dakota to bring up the rear on animal cruelty, has reorganized as a political action committee. Noting that local shelters and other animal groups can't endorse or financially support candidates due to their non-profit status, SD FACT plans to help critters and their friends in Pierre by...

  • Tracking the issues that affect animals
  • Surveying South Dakota candidates for elected office
  • Prioritizing and developing positions on proposed legislation
  • Meeting with South Dakota elected officials
  • Organizing grassroots legislative networks through a network of volunteer Community Coordinators
  • Mobilizing SD FACT members to communicate with legislators
  • Publishing an annual SD Humane Scorecard on incumbents’ voting records
  • Keeping our members informed through periodic updates
  • Educating South Dakota citizens and their elected representatives on how the choices we make through our the legislature impact the humane treatment of animals
  • Utilizing news and social media to promote animal welfare issues in South Dakota

[SD FACT, mission statement, downloaded 2014.07.05]

At the very least, SD FACT will help keep the Legislature honest and fight efforts to water down the hard-won protections of this year's Senate Bill 46. But they'll also be watching for gaps in current law and new protections South Dakota should offer to its furred and feathered friends.

p.s.—Ironic Dessert: SD FACT's secretary and media relations coordinator is named Heidi Hunter.