Niko & The Texas Animal Cruelty Law
Niko, an emaciated dog (pictured), was surrendered on March 16, 2023, after concerned residents had made reports on his well-being in Graham, Texas. His owners were arrested and charged with third-degree felonies after Niko passed away. Since 2017, the Young County Sheriff’s Dept. investigated 45 animal cruelty reports, 32 of which required further investigation, and SEVEN of those 45 were from the same residence from where Niko was surrendered. Charges were bumped to a third-degree felony from misdemeanor animal cruelty after Niko passed.
Recently, the 90th Judicial District grand jury in Young County returned a no bill of indictment, and the Assistant District Attorney (ADA) of Young County, Phillip Gregory, represented the reasons why Niko’s case was no billed. Now, the case is in the hands of the Young County Attorney’s Office so lesser charges can be brought. We understand prosecutorial discretion but want to correct Philip Gregory's statement:
“The courts have previously reviewed convictions and they have indicated that failing to provide adequate food and shelter is not torture under the current statute.”
THLN respectfully disagrees with the ADA that starvation is not torture under the Texas animal cruelty law and cannot be proven as such because those “pre-existing conditions” were from Niko’s prolonged starvation and intestinal parasites. In fact, the definition of torture under the law “includes any act that causes unjustifiable pain or suffering.” Look at Niko – if prolonged starvation of an animal until its death isn’t torture, then what is? According to the records, the Young County Sheriff’s Dept. could have civilly or criminally seized Niko in 2021 and acted upon any of the seven complaints but failed to do so.
We send the Humane Society of Young County a heartfelt thanks for continuing to be the voice for Niko and helping care for him in his final days.
We hope that Young County leaders will take advantage of the free Animal Cruelty courses offered by THLN’s sister organization, the Texas Humane Network. Trainings and education offered by the Texas Humane Network teach that knowingly failing to feed or give water to a dog, that is already cruelly confined, prolonged Niko’s starvation. This is one of the cruelest things one can do to a dog.
Now more than ever, it is important to educate law enforcement and animal control officers, as well as our prosecutors, of WHAT animal cruelty is under the LAW! This is the mission of our sister organization Texas Humane Network - educate to change their fate. Your donation will help fund the education of law enforcement statewide to prevent situations like this in the future.