In an effort to enforce stricter consequences for individuals found guilty of animal cruelty, legislators in Texas are implementing measures that will prohibit offenders from owning any animals for a period of five years following their initial conviction.
On Friday, one of the 774 bills passed by the Texas Legislature this session became law.
State Representative Matt Shaheen, a Republican from Plano, introduced House Bill 598, also known as the animal possession ban. This legislation targets individuals who have been convicted of participating in dogfighting activities. However, it also extends to those who have harmed an assistance animal or displayed cruelty towards non-livestock animals under the Texas penal code or equivalent codes at the state and federal levels. The aim is to address and prevent mistreatment of animals across various jurisdictions.
If someone is discovered to have an animal within that span of five years, they may face a Class C misdemeanor charge, which could result in a fine of up to $500. If the person continues to possess an animal despite previous offenses, the charge is elevated to a Class B misdemeanor. This raises the potential fine to $2,000 and introduces the possibility of up to 180 days in jail.
Founder and president of Animal Wellness Action, Wayne Pacelle, expressed his belief that acts of cruelty towards animals not only demonstrate a lack of empathy but also signify a larger societal issue. He emphasized the importance of law enforcement's involvement even after the conviction to address this problem effectively.
According to Bobosky, the act of violence towards animals can serve as an indication that someone may also have harmful intentions towards humans. She points out that the Uvalde school shooter, for instance, had shared videos of himself engaging in animal abuse on social media. By strengthening prosecution for cases of animal cruelty, she believes that it is possible to prevent other acts of violence from occurring.
Identifying offenders is crucial to prevent future acts of violence, even though instances of animal cruelty are infrequent, according to Shaheen.