SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - The arrest of an 18-year-old Sioux Falls resident for allegedly killing his mother's dog is reviving debate about whether South Dakota needs a stronger penalty for animal cruelty.
Injuring or killing an animal and inhumane treatment of animals are misdemeanor counts in South Dakota and the maximum penalty is a year in jail. Activist Jeni McNamara says that she thinks the lack of felony penalties makes it "barely even illegal" to mistreat animals in the state.
Marcelo Vargas of Sioux Falls is accused of intentionally killing his mother's Chihuahua on Monday night while she was in the hospital and his stepfather was at work. A judge released Vargas from custody Tuesday without requiring the posting of a bond. Vargas' mother says he is developmentally disabled.