Livestock welfare bill passed

Senators passed a bill May 2 that strengthens seizure protocol in the case of livestock neglect or cruelty.

LB423, introduced by the Agriculture Committee, authorizes law enforcement officials to enter into an agreement with animal owners and custodians outlining interventions to be undertaken to avoid seizure of neglected animals. The bill allows for keeping seized animals on the premises of the owner or custodian.

The bill also establishes procedures for determining the need to euthanize animals experiencing extreme suffering. Upon seizure of the animals, the law enforcement agency taking custody will have seven days to petition for a hearing before the district court, which will be scheduled within 10 days of the date of petition.

If a court determines that abandonment or cruel neglect has occurred, it may:
• order immediate forfeiture of animals and authorize euthanasia;
• detail conditions that must be met to restore custody to the owner; or
• order a bond or security to pay for the seizing agency’s cost for care of the animals.

If the owner or custodian is found not guilty, all costs associated with the seizure and care of animals will be refunded.

The bill also allows a court to order direct installment payments to cover expenses for the care of seized animals.

The provisions of the bill cannot preempt any animal welfare ordinances of a city of the primary class. Currently, Lincoln is the only primary class city.

Provisions of LB544, a bill originally introduced by North Platte Sen. Tom Hansen, were amended into the bill. Any person who owns a beef or dairy breeding bull infected with bovine trichomoniasis will be prohibited from selling or transporting the animal except for slaughter.

The owner also will be required to report the diagnosis to the state Department of Agriculture within five business days of laboratory confirmation of the diagnosis. The owner will be liable for notifying all neighboring landowners of the infection within 14 days.

The bill passed on a 41-0 vote.

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