Steps need to be taken to make animal cruelty a serious crime. Our current statute considers it a Class A Misdemeanor with multiple convictions required to make this crime a felony. This crime should be a felony and soon. Additionally, individuals who surrender their animals to avoid prosecution should have to pay restitution to their future caretakers for the care of the animals surrendered. If stronger punishments are not levied, this cruelty will continue unchecked.
Scenario #1: A man is arrested for animal cruelty in Bexar County. His crime is leaving 19 horses with no water, food or care. Three of these horses were found dead on the property and the other 16 were seized by law enforcement and turned over to a horse rescue. What is this man charged with? One (1) count of animal cruelty, a Class A misdemeanor – in essence a slap on the wrist for a horrific crime against innocent animals. This is not right!
Scenario #2: The horse pictured above is from this scenario. An individual is reported for animal cruelty/neglect to horses. By being allowed to voluntarily “surrender” the animals, the owner is not charged with anything, has no penalties levied against him nor does he have to pay restitution to the horse rescue who now will be feeding and caring for the animals. He is free to turn around and do it all over again. This is not right!
If we do not attach stronger penalties for animal cruelty, the above scenarios will continue on indefinitely. This is not right!
Please help us by reviewing the punishment portion of Texas Penal Code 42.09 and make animal cruelty crimes a felony and put restrictions on owner surrenders to include making them responsible for the future care of their animals. We need to help those who cannot help themselves.