Texas passed a law this June that would make any type of animal abuse a felony, with the assailant facing at least 10 years behind bars.
The current Texas law meant that animal abusers only faced two years, maximum, in prison.
Starting in September, anyone caught harming an animal will see the law bumped up, charging them with a third-degree felony.
After a year in Houston prosecuting animal cruelty cases, Natalie Lynch saw many animal abusers go free, then go on to abuse people. Now, she volunteers with the Texas Humane Legislation Network to make Texas animals safer.
“Stopping those people and getting them into the jails and getting them the help that they need, at the beginning. Because now there are actual consequences now that we have a new law,” said Lynch.
“Certainly the idea of spending two years in a state jail facility versus, I might spend 10 years in a prison is something any defense attorney would really have to talk to their client about,” said Nielsen, Travis County Assistant District Attorney.
But he says the law could make court convictions harder to come by.
“If they go to trial, it may persuade a jury in the opposite way and say we just don’t think killing this dog, or cat, or whatever the animal was, is worth 10 years in prison, eight years in prison,” said Nielsen.
“The days of negligible prison sentences for the most heinous and violent acts of cruelty against our companion animals are officially a part of Texas history,” said the Texas Humane Legislation Network Executive Director Laura Donahue in a statement. “Moving forward, the punishments will fit the crime.”
Earlier this month Governor Abbott signed a bill making bestiality illegal in Texas as well.
Animal rights groups consider this a victory, all around the United States. Several other states have passed this type of law before. Ohio made headlines in 2016 when they enacted a similar law that charged animal abusers with a felony.
Do you agree that animal abuse should be a felony? Let us know in the comments!