Saturday 16 September 2023

Texans convicted of animal cruelty will be banned from owning animals for five years

NEWS AND COMMENT: A pleasing new animal welfare law has been enacted in the American state of Texas. Those miscreants who have been successfully convicted of animal cruelty will be barred from owning animals for five years. Animal cruelty includes dogfighting. And the law applies to those who been convicted of animal cruelty for the first time. This is a much-needed step I would argue but I am an animal advocate and not everybody will be with me on this topic.

Shelter dog. Image in public domain.

But clearly, Texas' politicians i.e. the lawmakers of that state have decided to make it harder for people who want to be cruel to animals to own and possess them. And this surely must be correct.

The legislation, House Bill 598, successfully passed through the legislature. It was sponsored by state Rep Matt Shaheen, R-Plamo. It also covers people who have unjustifiably injured an assistant animal or who have been cruel to non-livestock animals. The law came into effect Friday.

Although, surprisingly, I'm told by the Texas Tribune that convicted offenders will still be able to live in the same household as animals. Isn't that peculiar? The idea of banning ownership of animals by convicted criminals is to prevent them being around animals. To prevent them being cruel again to animals. If they can live in the same home as animals that are possessed and owned by somebody else, they have the opportunity to be cruel again, don't they?

The law apparently also applies to people who've lived with assistance animals. If that person is then cruel to an animal and is convicted of animal cruelty they will lose their assistance animal under this legislation, as I understand it.

And if an order banning a person from owning an animal for five years under this legislation is then found to have an animal during that period, they could be charged with a Class C misdemeanour and be fined $500. And if they repeatedly breach the order, they could be charged with a Class B misdemeanour with an increased fine of $2000 and a possible jail term of 180 days.

The new legislation is one of 774 bills passed by the Texas Legislature during this season. This addition to the animal protection laws of Texas will be more effective in protecting animals. Simply punishing people by fining them or imprisoning them is arguably less effective at protecting animals than banning them from owning animals.

Animal cruelty is often a precursor to violence against people. This is a known phenomenon and therefore animal cruelty should be dealt with severely. An example would be the Uvalde school shooter. That person had committed animal cruelty and posted it on social media.

There is one last point to make and that is people who are inclined to be cruel to animals probably need psychological treatment of some sort. They need help as well as punishment. My personal theory is that they are often very angry people. They want to hurt somebody or something because they have been hurt themselves. It is the vulnerable domestic animals of this world who become the victims.

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