One State Representative says animal abuse laws are unfairly being used against livestock owners. Rep. Joe Don McGaugh (R-Carrollton) tells the House Agri-Business Committee that there have been an increasing number of incidents where Missouri farmers are being charged with animal abuse or neglect because their cattle got out and on to neighboring property. He wants the provision to say “animal trespass” instead.

The Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, Pork Producers, Federation of Animal Owners, and Sporting Dog Association spoke in favor of the measure.

However, Bob Baker with the Missouri Alliance for animal legislation says the bill does not specify that it would only apply to livestock and not companion animals. He says the legislation would add an increased burden of proof on prosecutors in legitimate abuse and neglect cases, especially in urban areas where first-time offenses are often put off for several months because of case overload. Baker agrees with Rep. Steve Hodges (D-East Prairie) who recommends taking dogs and other companion animals out of the bill.

Rep. Diane Franklin (R-Camdenton) suggested a timeline might be added to the bill, so that livestock owners have a certain amount of time to respond to accidental releases before they could be charged.