Stray Animals Left Unprotected by Law

3-23-05 - Supporters of a bill that would toughen Texas' animal cruelty laws say loopholes in current rules prevent many cases from being prosecuted.

The existing laws state that it isn't an offense to kill one's own animal "no matter by what means or how cruelly."

A proposed bill by House Representative Toby Goodman of Arlington would make it an offense for someone to kill his or her own animal in a cruel manner. It also would add wild animals in the law's protection against cruelty.

Under the current legislation, strays have little protection from abuse.

"The strays that are on the street are the ones that are the problem. Individuals can torture them, beat them to death and there's no avenue for prosecution for that," says Dave Garcia of the SPCA of Texas.

Local cases like the recent rescue of 115 neglected Chihuahuas, living in a Honey Grove home, have forced lawmakers to take a hard look at animal cruelty laws.

"As the law stands now, cruelty to animals typically will fall under a Class A misdemeanor or state jail felony, depending on what type of cruelty it is," said LT. Steve Ayers of the Sherman Police Department.

The hearing for HB 326 is scheduled for March 29th in Austin.