The animal welfare law protecting the domestic animals (pets) of Texas is encompassed within a statute that is much wider in its ambit and which also includes livestock. The law is called: PENAL CODE, TITLE 9. OFFENSES AGAINST PUBLIC ORDER AND DECENCY. The relevant section is under the heading ‘disorderly conduct and related offences’. It seems that in Texas animal cruelty is a branch of disorderly conduct which appears to me to downgrade a serious crime. In the UK, for instance, there is a free-standing statute that protects animals from acts of abuse and cruelty: Animal Welfare Act 2006.
Why isn’t there are similar free-standing Texan statute solely concerned with animal welfare? Guess: Texas is not that good at animal welfare protection in its laws (that’s incorrect – see below). For example, I am told that Texas is the worst state in the US for animal welfare deaths (source: The Animal Rescue Site News).
However, the Animal Defense League ranks Texas as 11th and in the top tier of the 50 states in terms of their animal protection laws. That’s pretty good.
Non-livestock? Why not just say ‘domestic animals’?
I am surprised that they describe domestic animals such as cats and dogs as ‘non-livestock animals’. It is second best. My general impression about Texas is that Texans like firearms which may increase the potential for animal cruelty by firearm, particularly in respect of the police shooting dogs perceived as a threat when they are not. Wrong? Tell me in a comment, please.
I have highlighted the clause which heads the list of criminal offences and the classification of the crime in terms of severity.
Here is Texas’ animal welfare law in an Act (a statute) that covers wider issues.
CHAPTER 42. DISORDERLY CONDUCT AND RELATED OFFENSES
Sec. 42.092. CRUELTY TO NONLIVESTOCK ANIMALS. (a) In this section:
(1) “Abandon” includes abandoning an animal in the person’s custody without making reasonable arrangements for assumption of custody by another person.
(2) “Animal” means a domesticated living creature, including any stray or feral cat or dog, and a wild living creature previously captured. The term does not include an uncaptured wild living creature or a livestock animal.
(3) “Cruel manner” includes a manner that causes or permits unjustified or unwarranted pain or suffering.
(4) “Custody” includes responsibility for the health, safety, and welfare of an animal subject to the person’s care and control, regardless of ownership of the animal.
(5) “Depredation” has the meaning assigned by Section 71.001, Parks and Wildlife Code.
(6) “Livestock animal” has the meaning assigned by Section 42.09.
(7) “Necessary food, water, care, or shelter” includes food, water, care, or shelter provided to the extent required to maintain the animal in a state of good health.
(8) “Torture” includes any act that causes unjustifiable pain or suffering.
(b) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:
(1) tortures an animal or in a cruel manner kills or causes serious bodily injury to an animal;
(2) without the owner’s effective consent, kills, administers poison to, or causes serious bodily injury to an animal;
(3) fails unreasonably to provide necessary food, water, care, or shelter for an animal in the person’s custody;
(4) abandons unreasonably an animal in the person’s custody;
(5) transports or confines an animal in a cruel manner;
(6) without the owner’s effective consent, causes bodily injury to an animal;
(7) causes one animal to fight with another animal, if either animal is not a dog;
(8) uses a live animal as a lure in dog race training or in dog coursing on a racetrack; or
(9) seriously overworks an animal.
(c) An offense under Subsection (b)(3), (4), (5), (6), or (9) is a Class A misdemeanor, except that the offense is a state jail felony if the person has previously been convicted two times under this section, two times under Section 42.09, or one time under this section and one time under Section 42.09.
(c-1) An offense under Subsection (b)(1) or (2) is a felony of the third degree, except that the offense is a felony of the second degree if the person has previously been convicted under Subsection (b)(1), (2), (7), or (8) or under Section 42.09.
(c-2) An offense under Subsection (b)(7) or (8) is a state jail felony, except that the offense is a felony of the third degree if the person has previously been convicted under this section or under Section 42.09.
(d) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that:
(1) the actor had a reasonable fear of bodily injury to the actor or to another person by a dangerous wild animal as defined by Section 822.101, Health and Safety Code; or
(2) the actor was engaged in bona fide experimentation for scientific research.
(e) It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (b)(2) or (6) that:
(1) the animal was discovered on the person’s property in the act of or after injuring or killing the person’s livestock animals or damaging the person’s crops and that the person killed or injured the animal at the time of this discovery; or
(2) the person killed or injured the animal within the scope of the person’s employment as a public servant or in furtherance of activities or operations associated with electricity transmission or distribution, electricity generation or operations associated with the generation of electricity, or natural gas delivery.
(f) It is an exception to the application of this section that the conduct engaged in by the actor is a generally accepted and otherwise lawful:
(1) form of conduct occurring solely for the purpose of or in support of:
(A) fishing, hunting, or trapping; or
(B) wildlife management, wildlife or depredation control, or shooting preserve practices as regulated by state and federal law; or
(2) animal husbandry or agriculture practice involving livestock animals.
(g) This section does not create a civil cause of action for damages or enforcement of the section.
Added by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 886 (H.B. 2328), Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2007.
Acts 2017, 85th Leg., R.S., Ch. 576 (S.B. 762), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2017.
Acts 2017, 85th Leg., R.S., Ch. 739 (S.B. 1232), Sec. 3, eff. September 1, 2017.
Assistance animal welfare laws of Texas. I have included this for completeness.
Sec. 42.091. ATTACK ON ASSISTANCE ANIMAL. (a) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly attacks, injures, or kills an assistance animal.
(b) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly incites or permits an animal owned by or otherwise in the custody of the actor to attack, injure, or kill an assistance animal and, as a result of the person’s conduct, the assistance animal is attacked, injured, or killed.
(c) An offense under this section is a:
(1) Class A misdemeanor if the actor or an animal owned by or otherwise in the custody of the actor attacks an assistance animal;
(2) state jail felony if the actor or an animal owned by or otherwise in the custody of the actor injures an assistance animal; or
(3) felony of the third degree if the actor or an animal owned by or otherwise in the custody of the actor kills an assistance animal.
(d) A court shall order a defendant convicted of an offense under Subsection (a) to make restitution to the owner of the assistance animal for:
(1) related veterinary or medical bills;
(2) the cost of:
(A) replacing the assistance animal; or
(B) retraining an injured assistance animal by an organization generally recognized by agencies involved in the rehabilitation of persons with disabilities as reputable and competent to provide special equipment for or special training to an animal to help a person with a disability; and
(3) any other expense reasonably incurred as a result of the offense.
(e) In this section:
(1) “Assistance animal” has the meaning assigned by Section 121.002, Human Resources Code.
(2) “Custody” has the meaning assigned by Section 42.09.
Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 710, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.
From Jan 18th, 2022 Texas’s animal protection and welfare laws were expanded to included tethered dogs. Dogs can no longer be allowed to be restrained with chains or heavy weights outdoors. It is called the Safe Outdoor Dogs Bill.
The statute says dogs must have shelter from ‘inclement weather’ which includes ‘rain, hail, sleet, snow, high winds, extreme low temperatures, or extreme high temperatures.’
Collar design and materials are also included in this law. They must be made of ‘material specifically designed to be placed around the neck of a dog.’
And restraints must also be no shorter than five times the dog’s length. Unattended dogs cannot be restrained with a chain. Anyone caught breaking the law can face a fine of up to $500.
Some more articles on animal laws. There are lots of pages. Please use the pagination list below the images.
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