May 11, 2023 After passing the House and Senate, HB 598 now heads to the Governor’s Desk.
AUSTIN, Texas – As of today, May 11, HB 598 by Representative Matt Shaheen (R-Plano) passed the Texas House and Senate and is on its way to Governor Abbott’s desk to be signed into law. The bill prevents previous perpetrators of animal cruelty from possessing an animal and establishes an enhanced offense for repeat offenders in an attempt to prevent future violence.
“We are so grateful to Representative Shaheen, Joint Author Representative Bhojani, and Senate Sponsor Whitmire for working on this momentous legislation that will interrupt cycles of violence for animals and people alike,” said Shelby Bobosky, Executive Director of the Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN). “Decades of research show that violence inflicted upon animals is the single greatest predictor that an abuser will escalate to hurting people, like in the Uvalde shooting. Unless interrupted early on, animal abusers have a very high incidence of recidivism. In 2017, THLN led a successful effort to strengthen our state’s animal cruelty law, considered one of the most effective animal cruelty laws in the United States and this law goes hand in hand with continuing to protect our pets.”
“Turning a blind eye to animal cruelty is something our children, families and communities simply cannot afford,” said HB 598 Author Representative Shaheen. “HB 598 is the next logical step in closing the loophole in Texas law that allows abusers continued access to animals.”
“When animals are safe from harm, our communities as a whole are safer,” said Joint Author Representative Salman Bhojani. “I am proud to be a Joint Author on this legislation that will allow the state to intervene before violence occurs.”
“As the author of the original animal cruelty law in Texas, I am proud to be the Senate Sponsor of HB 598 by Representatives Shaheen and Bhojani,” said Senate Sponsor John Whitmire. “This new law will help ensure people accused of animal cruelty will no longer have access to animals and will help break the cycle of animal abuse.”
“It is clear that current penalties for animal abuse do little to actually stop abuse,” said Jamey Cantrell, President of the Texas Animal Control Association (TACA). “Prosecutors trying these cases often see the same offenders over and again, sometimes immediately after the conclusion of the offender’s last criminal case. This legislation makes it clear that someone convicted of animal cruelty cannot own an animal and establishes a Class B misdemeanor for repeat offenders.”
Current law does not prevent people convicted of animal cruelty from acquiring more animals, causing legitimate concern that Texas law does not adequately prevent future violence. HB 598 addresses this concern and aims to keep animals out of an environment with a convicted animal abuser.
“While HB 598 is not an end all be all solution, it is a first step toward interrupting the cycle of abuse at its earliest stages, and making Texas safer for our communities,” concluded Bobosky.
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