A Missouri state representative claims animal abuse laws are inaccurate and has proposed a bill to change the law regarding crimes of animal neglect and animal abuse.
The legislation, HB 564, separates animal abuse or neglect from a new provision defining “animal trespass.” A release from the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association says the legislation differentiates between incidents that are accidental in nature versus malicious intent.
"This bill will help correct current animal neglect laws, which have resulted in many livestock owners facing neglect and abuse charges," said MCA President Chuck Massengill. "An accident like a tree falling on a fence and livestock getting out or being hurt can result in an abuse or neglect charge. This current legislation would change that charge to trespassing."
The goal of the bill is to prevent Missouri farmers whose animals get out and on to neighboring property from facing harsh animal abuse charges. Prosecutors would also be required to show an increased burden of proof in legitimate abuse and neglect cases.
The bill is proposed by Rep. Joe Don McGaugh and has gained support from the Missouri Cattlemen's Association, Pork Producers, Federation of Animal Owners, and Sporting Dog Association.
According to OzarkFirst.com, the bill does not specify that it would only apply to livestock and not companion animals.
The bill sets new punishments for animal trespass with a first offense punishable by a fine of up to $200. A second or subsequent conviction is a class C misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment, a fine of up to $500, or both. Fines for a first-time offense could be waived if the guilty party shows that adequate, permanent remedies for trespass have been made.