Governor Abbott Signs Bill Upping Animal Cruelty Punishment

Animal Sanctuary Needs £200,000 To Avoid Closure

Gov. Abbott has signed a bill that will substantially increase the punishments for animal cruelty, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The law, which was sponsored by State Sen. Jose Menendez, was in part driven by the case of Rosie, the dog that was doused with gasoline and set on fire in 2015.  The suspect in the case could only face up to 180 days in jail under current state law.

The bill will make cruelty, including torturing, killing, poisoning, or causing serious bodily injury to a 'companion animal' as Third Degree Felony, with potential imprisonment of up to 10 years.

Laura Donahue of the Texas Human Legislation Network, says that will not only mean serious punishment for the criminal, but will also make local District Attorney's offices more likely to to pursue very difficult cases of animal abuse.

"A lot of times you'd see these cases and when they went to court they would get 'time served' and they would end up walking," Donahue said.

Officials say cases of animal cruelty have been on the increase over the past several years, and Donahue says that is a cause for concern.

"I think every serial killer, every school shooter, all of these mass casualty criminals that we hear about today all started on animals," Donahue said.

She says the new state law is in line with federal opinion on the topic."We felt that now is the time to update our cruelty code, because the FBI just a year ago began tracking these crimes in their profiling database."

Donahue said the law is very narrowly written to cover only household 'companion animals.'  It will not cover livestock and will have no affect on hunting.

"The link between animal cruelty and domestic violence is well documented," she said.  "When animals are safe from harm, communities are safer."

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