In Texas, people can be criminally prosecuted for animal cruelty. When people are convicted in the state for such an offense, consequences can include fines and even imprisonment. Under the criminal law, animal cruelty can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony offense.
Texas animal cruelty laws are applied towards domesticated animals and those initially wild but otherwise held under the control of a person. While the criminal laws also include livestock, other types of animals such as circus animals, wild animals or those used in experiments are not covered. Civil laws, on the other hand, are broader and do not differentiate between domestic and wild animals.
The laws prohibit torturing, overworking, abandoning, neglecting, killing, seriously injuring, poisoning, cruelly confining or transporting animals. People are also prohibited from tripping horses or from using a live animal to lure racing dogs. Additionally, both cockfighting and dog fighting are illegal in Texas. Felony-level animal cruelty is punishable by a fine up to $10,000 and imprisonment for up to two years. Cockfighting is also a felony with the same potential punishment.
Animal cruelty laws in Texas are narrower than others, as most other states do not differentiate between domesticated and wild animals under the criminal laws. However, for those charged, the penalties can be harsh. People accused of animal cruelty allegations may greatly benefit from consulting with a criminal defense attorney. A defense attorney may be able to review the relevant facts of a case in order to devise a solid strategy. He or she might also advocate for his or her clients through filing motions and representing them should the case go to trial.
Source: SPCA Texas, “Texas Animal Cruelty Laws“, October 31, 2014