This is good news. Finally, anyone caught abusing an animal will face tougher penalties.

Our hearts go out to abused animals. We've shared many sad stories with you and have witnessed many abandoned and neglected dogs who find their way to one of our Lubbock shelters awaiting a new home.

Texans could now face up to ten years in jail for animal abuse, according to KLBK's report on this just-passed Texas law. Senate Bill 762 addresses Violent Animal Cruelty and cracks down on what used to be a misdemeanor offense.

Lonestar 99.5 talked to Kia Riemath, the Lubbock Animal Shelter's assistant director. She said the new law gives a judge clearer guidelines, but added that it's often difficult to prove animal abuse.

"Too often people are scared of retaliation and going to court," Riemath said. She added that proving abuse depends a lot on the conditions a dog is found living in.

She explained that negligence, such as leaving your dog in a hot car, can be prosecuted under this law as animal abuse. Authorities can open a car and remove a dog left there. They have thermal guns that measure the temperature in the car. The degree of abuse is also measured by the amount of distress the dog is in.

She shared a rule of thumb to estimate the temperature inside a parked car. You can estimate that the temperature raises five degrees every five minutes. She recommends that if you see a dog left in a hot car, call 3-1-1 for help.

The more pictures and the more proof there is, the more likely offenders will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of this new law. So it's up to us to be aware and help by calling 3-1-1 when we witness abuse and neglect.

Lubbock has a very high rate of abandoned and abused dogs according to the KLBK report, and this new law is much needed and overdue. No one should be allowed to get away with animal cruelty and now it is a felony crime in Texas. This new bill goes into effect September 1st.

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