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BOISE -- Under threat of a voter initiative, an Idaho cattle group says it supports legislation to punish third-time animal cruelty offenders with a felony.

The Idaho Cattle Association's feeder council voted to pursue the bill in 2012 at its recent meeting, according to the association's July newsletter.

The association's feedlot group says getting behind legislation now will help it control the outcome -- and show the public that cattle producers take pride in caring for their animals.

Jeff Rosenthal, Idaho Humane Society director, said Wednesday the feeder council's vote likely reflects a common-sense, locally crafted approach to a long-unresolved issue.

Rosenthal's Idaho group is among animal welfare groups now gathering signatures for a 2012 ballot initiative.

Idaho, North Dakota and South Dakota are the only states without felony animal cruelty penalties.

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