Originally Published in: San Antonio Express-News
Published on: September 14, 2023
Written By: Cathy M Rosenthal
Three new animal welfare bills passed in this year’s state legislative session and are now laws in Texas as of Sept. 1.
Decades of research have shown a connection in people between cruelty to animals and later violence toward humans. House Bill 598 makes it a crime for a person convicted of animal cruelty to possess or live with an animal for up to five years from conviction, and it enhances the punishment for repeat offenders. It’s a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine, and a Class B misdemeanor for repeat offenders with up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine.
While the punishments could be more stringent for these crimes, said Shelby Bobosky, executive director of the Texas Humane Legislation Network, “It is a first step toward interrupting the cycle of abuse at its earliest stages and making Texas safer for our communities.”
Senate Bill 876 answers some prayers for those fighting to close loopholes in commercial dog- and cat-breeding operations.
It previously defined a breeder as someone who owns 11 or more adult unspayed female dogs or cats. The new law now requires someone who owns five unspayed female dogs and cats, and who “is engaged in the business of breeding those animals for direct or indirect sales” to have a license to operate under the Occupations Code of Texas.
If you have been trying to pass off your animal as a service animal, it’s not only a crime, but the fines for it have tripled in Texas.
HB 4164 redefines a service animal as one specially trained to assist a person with a disability. If your pet has not received this specialty training and you knowingly or intentionally represent your pet as an assistance animal, you can be subject to a fine of up to $1,000 and 30 hours of community service at organizations serving people with
While not among the big three for animals, HB 4069 requires financial transparency for pet owners seeking emergency care for their pets.
Prior to treatment, veterinary clinics now must disclose treatment prices for a sick or injured pet before services are rendered. In other words, you won’t be surprised by the emergency room bill at the end of the visit.