tc68, your hypothetical wouldn't happen in my state because I actually know what the aggravated animal cruelty definition is and so do our ACOs. (It actually wouldn't in your state either!)
I know in the TL;DR world, it's become uncommon to read statutes, and if people haven't been trained in how statutory definitions work or how to find court decisions interpreting them, they can end up imagining gross distortions about legal matters. Your bio says Maryland -- in your state the statute expressly excludes from the definition of animal cruelty agricultural customs and husbandry, customary veterinary practices, research, and "an activity that may cause unavoidable physical pain to an animal, including food processing, pest elimination, animal training
, and hunting. . ."
That exclusion is literally in the state statute's definition. That's actually a very typical statute. Most state courts tend to construe those exceptions VERY broadly.
We often can barely get resources devoted to good felony prosecutions of animal torturers in most parts of the US, even when the laws are there for it. Prosecutors don't want to devote resources if it's not a public priority--and debates like this one have convinced some of them it's NOT a public priority (I've literally had a conversation about this with our local law enforcement leadership). Those who engage in blood sports try hard to create internet opposition to these laws (and their enforcement) by sowing fear that the laws will impact regular pet owners -- it's an actual tactic in a big-money industry. In my state, we experienced an Internet campaign to stir up opposition to a bill prohibiting sexual abuse of animals -- the Internet fear-mongering created so much baseless worry that it didn't pass the first time, because people (and the legislators themselves) weren't actually reading the bill and were worried about all sorts of imaginary stuff not actually in the bill. Worried legislators literally voted against enhanced criminal penalties for sexual abuse of animals the first time the bill came up based on arguments like the ones here. The arguments made no sense whatsoever to anyone who read the bill, but it didn't matter because "something had been on Facebook" about it.
State-level registries enable full participation in the FBI's tracking of these people in the federal animal cruelty database that's existed since 2016 tracking "gross neglect, torture, organized abuse, and sexual abuse" because of the role it has in other crime (including serial killer tracking):