Texas Animal Abusers May Face up to a Decade in Prison Thanks to New Law

Posted by Mateja Lane
Neglected dog behind fence

There will now be harsher punishments for people who harm animals in Texas.

Convicted animal abusers will now face up to 10 years in prison thanks to Senate Bill 762 signed into law by Governor Greg Abbot over the weekend.

Previous to this bill, people who injured an animal could receive absolutely no punishment. Repeat offenders could be charged and serve as little as two years in jail.

Once punished with only a Class A misdemeanor, starting in September animal abusers will be charged with a 3rd-degree felony which can result in a decade in jail, or 20 years with repeat offense.

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Natalie Lynch is now a volunteer with the Texas Humane Legislation Network after she spent a year prosecuting heartbreaking animal abuse cases in Houston. She thinks this law will help stop abuse and future cases of violence.

"Stopping those people and getting them into the jails and getting them the help that they need, at the beginning. Because now there are actual consequences now that we have a new law," said Lynch.

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While the new law will hopefully make animals safer, Travis County Prosecutor Erik Nielsen has his doubts at how a jury will react to cases if a case goes to trial.

"If they go to trial, it may persuade a jury in the opposite way and say we just don't think killing this dog, or cat, or whatever the animal was, is worth 10 years in prison, eight years in prison," said Nielsen.

While Travis County only files about 15 felony cases a year related to animal cruelty, it is much more common throughout the state with an average of about 500 cases a year.

The law was signed over the weekend and these new punishments will go in effect September 1, 2017.

Tell us what you think of this new law in the comments below. 

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Texas Animal Abusers May Face up to a Decade in Prison Thanks to New Law