Hill County Paw Pals, Hill County, Texas

The State of Texas is Serious with Animal Cruelty

The State of Texas recently passed two new laws that come into effect on September 1, 2007 and are of great significance for the protection of our companion dogs.  The first is HB916 (read HB916 here) which increases the penalty for dog fighting from a Class A misdemeanor to a state jail felony and increases the punishment for people who attend dog fights from a Class C misdemeanor to a Class A misdemeanor.  To help combat the despicable act of dog fighting, The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) of Texas will reward $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any individual involved with dog fighting.  One may easily dismiss that dog fighting only involves “pit bulls” or other “fighting” dogs but plain family pets are also involved in that they are stolen and used a “bait” to “train” fighting dogs.  Dog fighting people are not law-abiding and their activities often involve illegal weapons and drugs.  Report all dog fighting or animal cruelty cases to your local law enforcement and to the SPCA of Texas at www.spca.org/cruelty.

The second new law is HB1411 (read HB1411 here) prohibits an owner from tethering a dog outside between the hours of 10 pm to 6 am and also prohibits tethering for more than 3 hours.  The law also prohibits tethering outside during extreme weather conditions such as: when the outdoor temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit or when a heat advisory has been issued by a local or state authority of jurisdiction.  Tethering a dog is also prohibited during a hurricane, tropical storm or when a tornado watch or warning has been issued for the area by the National Weather Service or any combination of these factors.  Other than the obvious inhumane nature of tethering (imagine yourself being tethered to a tree or post), the law was enacted to protect humans from vicious dog attacks.  Dogs tethered for long periods can become highly aggressive.  Dogs feel naturally protective of their territory; when confronted with a perceived threat, they respond according to their fight-or-flight instinct.  A chained dog, unable to take flight, often feels forced to fight, attacking any unfamiliar animal or person who unwittingly wanders into his or her territory.  Numerous attacks on people by tethered dogs have been documented.  For example, a study published in the September 15, 2000, issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association reported that 17% of dogs involved in fatal attacks on humans between 1979 and 1998 were restrained on their owners' property at the time of the attack.  Tragically, the victims of such attacks are often children who are unaware of the chained dog's presence until it is too late.  Furthermore, a tethered dog that finally does get loose from his chains may remain aggressive, and is likely to chase and attack unsuspecting passersby and pets.  Have you seen “tethered” dogs in your neighborhood?  Help enforce this new law and report it to your local law enforcement.

Hill County Paw Pals is a grass roots group of over 1,050 concerned voting citizens and over 110 businesses who have been working for the past three years to bring positive change to our great county by facilitating the installation of a county animal control program and animal shelter.  We can not allow the present situation of our unchecked pet overpopulation issue to continue.  Pet overpopulation burdens our community(s) with health, economic, legal, and safety (HELS) liabilities.  Do we wait for a tragic attack on one of our children by a pack of dogs or do we proactively act today to correct an issue that can be solved?  If you would like to become part of this successful movement, please call (254) 580-0679, email hcpawpals@yahoo.com or write Paw Pals, PO Box 1533, Hillsboro, Texas 76645.