Texas Attack on Assistance Animal Attorneys

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 What is Animal Cruelty?

The inhumane treatment of animals—be they pets or livestock—is the general definition of animal cruelty. The deliberate physical damage or neglect of an animal is known as animal abuse. Attacking a service animal is a distinct offense in Texas.

What is Abandoning an Animal?

When an owner or caretaker of a pet or other animal neglects the animal, it is considered to have been abandoned, a term that is frequently used interchangeably with animal neglect. This can occur if the animal is not given the requirements for survival, such as food, water, and shelter.

Texas defines good shelter as having enough room to move around, having access to food and drink, being generally clean, and having some kind of protection from severe weather.

What Constitutes an Assault on a Service Animal in Texas?

Attacking a service animal is illegal if someone does so intentionally or carelessly and:

  • Damages a service animal
  • Assaults a service animal
  • Euthanizes a service animal

Definition of the Term “Service Animal”

According to federal law (75 FR 56266), a “service animal” is:

“[A]ny dog that has been specifically taught to carry out duties or complete tasks for the benefit of a person who is disabled, whether they have a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental impairment.

For the purposes of this definition, other species of animals—whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained—are not considered service animals.

A service animal’s job or tasks must be specifically tied to its handler’s impairment. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, helping those who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting those who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, helping someone who is having a seizure, warning people about the presence of allergens, retrieving items like medicine or the phone, and offering physical support.

For the purposes of this definition, the impact of an animal’s presence on deterring crime and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not count as work or chores.”

Possibly, the federal definition is not sufficiently inclusive.

For instance, a dog that can be relied upon to notify or attempt to revive a person having a seizure may be certified or licensed as a service dog in many jurisdictions without requiring any special training. 15% of seizure dogs are thought to operate organically, without instruction, alarms, or additional assistance for seizure victims.

How Can I Be Convicted in Texas of Attacking a Service Animal?

Prosecutors must prove one of the following in order to convict a defendant for attacking a service animal:

  1. Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly either permitted or incited their animal to kill, injure, or attack an assistance animal; OR
  2. Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly either incited or permitted an animal under their control to attack, injure, or kill an assistance animal; OR
  3. Attacked, hurt, or murdered an assistance animal carelessly, deliberately, or knowingly

Is it a Felony or Misdemeanor in Texas to Attack a Service Animal?

Depending on the circumstances, attacking an assistance animal in Texas might result in a misdemeanor or a felony prosecution.

When Does this Offense Become a Misdemeanor?

When a person owns or is in control of an animal that attacks a service animal, it is a Class A misdemeanor. Punishments for a Class A misdemeanor include:

  • No more than one year in prison
  • $4,000 fine

When Does a Crime Become a Felony?

Under two conditions, attacking an assistance animal is a felony.

Ownership or management of an animal that harms a service animal is a state jail felony that carries the following penalties:

  • Two years to 180 days in state prison
  • $!0,000 fine

If the service animal perishes, it is a third-degree felony punished by:

Ten years in prison and a $10,000 fine

Will I Also Be Required to Pay Restitution?

Yes, if you are found guilty, you will have to pay the owner of the service animal reparations.

Restitution can take the form of paying for medical expenses, animal rehabilitation, or even a replacement animal.

Can Service Animals Fly?

ESAs can fly on an aircraft under the current norms and regulations if the owners can present the following:

  • The passenger’s DSM IV-listed mental health disability must be supported by current, no more than one-year-old paperwork from a licensed mental health expert.
  • The documentation demonstrates that the animal must travel with the passenger as part of their care.
  • Proof of the doctor’s credentials, including their credentials, the state where they practice, and that they are the passenger’s doctor.

Despite these restrictions, there is growing concern that not every species listed as an ESA is valid. There are a lot of internet services that permit pet owners to “register” their animals as ESAs on unofficial databases or that provide free screening with quick turnarounds on any required documentation, even though there are no concrete statistics to support this worry.

Doctors and government officials alike are scrambling to inform the public about the truth of these online registration frauds due to the abundance of low-cost registration sites.

Attacks and incidents involving emotional support animals have increased as airlines work to comply with the legislation and ESA owners.

What Must I Do if I Witness Animal Abuse?

It’s crucial that you inform the appropriate authorities if you think you saw an animal being mistreated rather than trying to enforce the law on your own. Your local government will be able to assess the situation and deal with the problem, punishing the animal abuser.

It is preferable to get in touch with your local humane society, an animal welfare organization, or local authorities if you see or suspect someone is abusing animals. Agents of the humane society are legally able to look into reports of animal abuse and even take custody of abused animals in Texas.

Additionally, even if the owner’s actions are not deemed to be illegal, the humane society representatives may be able to tell you whether local law enforcement can intervene or step in to help.

What Must I Do If My Pet Was Mistreated?

If your animal has been mistreated, you should notify the appropriate authorities right away.

Additionally, you should keep records of any instances of animal cruelty or abuse as you might be able to file a civil lawsuit against the offender in civil court or bring the matter to the attention of your regional district attorney. Although your pet is a member of your family, it’s important to keep in mind that the law views them as personal property.

As a result, a typical civil lawsuit for animal abuse or cruelty is usually only allowed to recover the animal’s market value. Courts that award punitive damages or damages based on emotional distress are extremely rare.

Should I Discuss My Case with an Attorney?

Animals sometimes exhibit unpredictable behavior and are challenging to manage. Even if you have taken all reasonable precautions to avoid it, they might still attack another animal.

You should speak with a Texas criminal attorney right away to learn more about defending yourself if your animal is charged with attacking a service animal.

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