Texas passed a massive 1,100 bills during its 88th Legislature, and 774 are now in effect. If you aren't well acquainted with these new laws, I can't say I blame you. In fact, many of these laws are unlikely ever to affect you in any way, as they are hyper-local in focus or are just about funding a state agency or institution, etc.

However, some of the laws have made national news like the so-called "Death Star Bill" and other laws addressing polarizing issues. Other, less headline-grabbing laws have been passed that could affect you. It would take a small book to address them all with any depth, so instead we'll focus on three new laws you should know concerning animals in Texas. 

Photo by Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash
Photo by Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash

Animal Cruelty (HB 598) 

Relating to creating the criminal offense of possession of an animal by a person who has been previously convicted of an offense involving animal cruelty.

A person convicted of animal cruelty is now committing a misdemeanor crime if they own another animal within five years. I have to agree wholeheartedly with this law. If someone was willing to abuse an animal before, they need at least that much time to better themselves as a human being before owning another one.

Service Animals (HB 4164)

Relating to the improper use and treatment of an assistance animal or service animal; increasing a criminal penalty.

This law has two parts. First, it increases the penalty for people who claim their animal is a service animal when they are not trained as such. I hope the possibility of a $1000 fine and 30 hours of community service curbs this problem, as we all know what a nuisance this can be. For a deeper dive into this aspect of the law in particular, read more here (clink hyperlink).

Secondly, this law enables service animals to be seized if the owners abuse or neglect them.

Puppy Mills (SB 876) 

Relating to the licensing and regulation of dog and cat breeders; expanding the applicability of an occupational license.

This law decreases the amount of female cats or dogs a breeder can own before they must obtain a license. Previously, a person could own 11 animals without oversight, now it has been reduced to 5. We;ve all seen headlines about horrific abuses and neglect in unlicensed "puppy mills" so this law helps expand the ability of Texas to oversee such operations. Reputable breeders love and care for their animals, but a person purely in it for profit rarely takes proper care of their animals.

Personally, I think all of these laws are good, common-sense policies that will improve the lives of animals in Texas. That's a wonderful thing.

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