San Francisco – The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) has sent an urgent alert to its Missouri members, urging them to contact their state representatives expressing their opposition to State Representative Ward Franz’s (R-West Plains) bill HB 1513, which would write a provision into state law that states that animals shall not have any rights that are “equivalent” to or that exceed the rights of human beings. If passed, the bill would throw the state’s animal cruelty laws into uncertainty and confusion, potentially eliminating all animals’ rights to be free from abuse, cruelty, and neglect, simply because those rights are “equivalent” to the rights Missouri also “confers by law upon a human being.”
Why are animal attorneys and advocates barking mad about Franz’s HB 1513? Because Missouri’s historic state animal cruelty laws place legal duties on humans, duties that protect animals, the law is premised on animals having certain rights – rights to be free from abuse, cruelty, neglect, starvation, etc. Because those rights are equivalent to many of the rights Missouri law guarantees human beings, and children in particular, state animal cruelty laws will be thrown into doubt–do those laws grant equivalent rights? Do they grant greater rights?
“In Missouri both human beings and animals have a legal right not to be beaten,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “Franz’s bill says animals cannot have the same right. That makes no sense.”