AKC News

Press Center
More Headlines

Fanciers, Hunters Concerned About Texas Cruelty Bill

(Thursday, February 03, 2005)

Hunters and dog fanciers in Texas are extremely concerned about HB326 and its companion, SB172. The identical bills would amend the state's cruelty law in several ways. First, the measures make it a crime to cause bodily injury to an animal, with "animal" being defined as any "nonhuman mammal, bird or captive amphibian or reptile." The exemption for wild creatures (those that are often hunted) has been removed. Furthermore, while the existing cruelty law includes a straightforward exemption for those who hunt, fish or trap, HB326/SB172 changes that language to say that hunting "may be used as a defense" if you are prosecuted for animal cruelty. These changes mean that hunters could more easily be charged with cruelty and consequently be forced to defend themselves in court.

HB326/SB172 would also criminalize "training or conditioning" one animal to fight with another. While Texas dog owners strongly oppose dog fighting, they worry that training for field trials and hunt or coonhound tests could be included in this definition. Those who use treadmills and similar devices to keep their dogs in shape for competition also worry that under HB326/S172, mere evidence of this equipment would create a presumption that owners are training dogs to fight.

Texas fanciers and sportsmen strongly support proper care and humane treatment of all animals through enforcement of the state's existing cruelty statute. They firmly believe in dog owners' responsibility to provide adequate and nutritious diet, clean water, clean living conditions, regular veterinary care, kind and responsive human companionship, and training in appropriate behavior. Although they strongly support preventing cruelty to animals, they believe that HB326/SB172 includes vague definitions that could not only criminalize hunting, but would also eliminate an owner's intent, thereby subjecting innocent individuals to the full force of a felony conviction.

What You Can Do:

  • H326 has been referred to the House Committee on Agriculture and Livestock, while S172 was referred to the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice. Contact the members of those committees to express your concerns!

    House Committee on Agriculture and Livestock
    Capitol Bldg #E2.162
    Austin, TX 78768-2910
    Phone:512/463-0762

    Chair: Rep. Rick Hardcastle
    Phone:512/463-0526, FAX:512/463-6003

    Vice-Chair: Rep. Charles "Doc" Anderson
    Phone:512/463-0845

    Members:
    Rep. Betty Brown
    Phone:512/463-0458, FAX:512/463-2040, Email: betty.brown@house.state.tx.us

    Rep. Lon Burnam
    Phone:512/463-0740, Email: lon.burnam@house.state.tx.us

    Rep. Jessica Farrar
    Phone:512/463-0620

    Rep. Abel Herrero
    Phone:512/463-0845

    Rep. Dora Olivo
    Phone:512/463-0494, FAX:512/463-1403


    Senate Criminal Justice
    Sam Houston Bldg #335
    Austin, TX 78711
    Phone:512/463-0345

    Chair: Sen. John Whitmire
    (512) 463-0115
    Vice-Chair: Sen. Kel Seliger
    (512) 463-0131

    Members:
    Sen. John Carona (512) 463-0116
    Sen. Rodney Ellis (512) 463-0113
    Sen. Juan Hinojosa 512) 463-0120
    Sen. Steve Ogden (512) 463-0105
    Sen. Tommy Williams (512) 463-0104


  • For additional information, contact:
    Responsible Pet Owners Alliance
    http://www.responsiblepetowners.org
    Mary Beth Duerler
    rpoa@texas.net
    (210) 822-6763