The general definition of animal cruelty is the inhumane treatment of livestock or pets. Animal abuse is the intentional act of physically harm or neglecting an animal. In Texas, there is a separate crime for attacking a service animal.

What Is an Attack on Assistance Animal in Texas?

A person is considered guilty of attacking on an assistance animal when they recklessly or knowingly:

  • Injuries an assistance animal
  • Attacks an assistance animal
  • Kills an assistance animal

How Can I Be Found Guilty of Attacking an Assistance Animal in Texas?

To convict a defendant of attacking an assistance animal, prosecutors must show that the defendant:

  • Knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly either permitted or incited their animal to kill, injure, or attack an assistance animal; OR
  • Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly either incited or permitted an animal under their control to attack, injure, or kill an assistance animal; OR
  • Recklessly, intentionally, or knowingly attacked, injured, or killed an assistance animal

Is Attacking an Assistance Animal in Texas a Felony or Misdemeanor?

In Texas, a person can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony for attacking an assistance animal, depending on the circumstances.

When Is This Crime a Misdemeanor?

Attacking an assistance animal is a Class A misdemeanor when the person owns or has control of an animal who attacks a service animal. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by:

  • Not more one year in jail
  • $4,000 fine
  • Fine and county jail time

When Is This Crime a Felony?

Attacking an assistance animal is a felony under two circumstances. When the person owns or in control of an animal that injures an assistance animal, it is a state jail felony punishable by:

  • 180 days to two years in state jail
  • $!0,000 fine
  • Both jail and fine

If the service animal dies, it is a felony in the third degree punishable by:

  • Two to 10 years in prison
  • $10,000 fine
  • Fine and prison time

Will I Have to Pay Restitution Too?

Yes, you will owe restitution to the service animal’s owner if you are convicted. Restitution ranges from paying for medical bills, rehabilitation for the animal, and/or replacement animal.

Should I Talk to an Attorney about My Case?

Animals can be unpredictable and difficult to control sometimes. They may even attack another animal even when you have done everything you could to prevent it. If your animal is accused of attacking a service animal, you should contact a Texas attorney immediately to learn more about defending yourself against this charge.