A petition has been addressed to the Governor and State Representatives of Texas to strengthen animal cruelty laws and the punishments for those crimes. There are currently more than thirteen thousand signatures leaving more than six thousand still needed to reach a goal of twenty thousand. Sign the petition here.
The petition “Strengthen animal cruelty punishments in current Texas Statute 42.09” reads as follows:
“Let’s put some teeth into the penalties for animal cruelty!
Scenario #1: A man is arrested for animal cruelty in Bexar County. His crime is leaving 19 horses with no water, food or care. Three of these horses were found dead on the property and the other 16 were seized by law enforcement and turned over to a horse rescue. What is this man charged with? One (1) count of animal cruelty, a Class A misdemeanor – in essence a slap on the wrist for a horrific crime against innocent animals. This is not right!
Scenario #2: The horse pictured above is from this scenario. An individual is reported for animal cruelty/neglect to horses. By being allowed to voluntarily “surrender” the animals, the owner is not charged with anything, has no penalties levied against him nor does he have to pay restitution to the horse rescue who now will be feeding and caring for the animals. He is free to turn around and do it all over again. This is not right!
If we do not attach stronger penalties for animal cruelty, the above scenarios will continue on indefinitely. This is not right!
Please help us by reviewing the punishment portion of Texas Penal Code 42.09 and make animal cruelty crimes a felony and put restrictions on owner surrenders to include making them responsible for the future care of their animals. We need to help those who cannot help themselves.”
Currently Texas law only considers certain acts as felonies such as the torture, killing, seriously injuring, poisoning, fighting or tripping of an animal. A state jail felony may be imposed on the first conviction. If a defendant is convicted three times he may be subject to a third degree felony sentence which translates to imprisonment ranging from 2 to 10 years and a possible fine of up to $10,000.
Other acts are considered misdemeanors such as depriving an animal of food or water, abandoning an animal, transporting an animal in a cruel manner, injuring someone else’s animal and overworking an animal. Punishment for these acts may include a fine of up to $4,000, jail time up to a year or both.
Texas Penal Code 42.09, Cruelty To Animals, is as follows:
§ 42.09. CRUELTY TO ANIMALS. (a) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally or knowingly:
(1) tortures an animal;
(2) fails unreasonably to provide necessary food, care, or shelter for an animal in the person's custody;
(3) abandons unreasonably an animal in the person's custody;
(4) transports or confines an animal in a cruel manner;
(5) kills, seriously injures, or administers poison to an animal, other than cattle, horses, sheep, swine, or goats, belonging to another without legal authority or the owner's effective consent;
(6) causes one animal to fight with another;
(7) uses a live animal as a lure in dog race training or in dog coursing on a racetrack;
(8) trips a horse;
(9) injures an animal, other than cattle, horses, sheep, swine, or goats, belonging to another without legal authority or the owner's effective consent; or
(10) seriously overworks an animal.
(b) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the actor was engaged in bona fide experimentation for scientific research.
(c) For purposes of 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 and wild living creature previously captured. "Animal" does not include an uncaptured wild creature or a wild creature whose capture was accomplished by conduct at issue under this section.
(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) "Necessary food, care, or shelter" includes food, care, or shelter provided to the extent required to maintain the animal in a state of good health.
(6) "Trip" means to use an object to cause a horse to fall or lose its balance.
(d) An offense under Subsection (a)(2), (3), (4), (9), or (10) 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.
(e) It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (a)(5)that the animal was discovered on the person's property in the act of or immediately after injuring or killing the person's goats, sheep, cattle, horses, swine, or poultry and that the person killed or injured the animal at the time of this discovery.
(f) It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (a) (8) that the actor tripped the horse for the purpose of identifying the ownership of the horse or giving veterinary care to the horse.
(g) It is a defense to prosecution for an offense under this section that the person had a reasonable fear of bodily injury to the person or to another by a dangerous wild animal as defined by
Section 822.101, Health and Safety Code.
(h) 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) use of an animal if that use occurs solely for the purpose of:
(A) fishing, hunting, or trapping; or
(B) wildlife control as regulated by state and federal law; or
(2) animal husbandry or farming practice involving livestock.
(i) An offense under Subsection (a) (1),(5),(6),(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 two times under this section.
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