Texas House abortion-related amendment guts animal cruelty bill


Bill sought to increase penalty for torturing, killing pets to a third-degree felony.

Republican’s amendment limits animal cruelty to a state jail felony.

Voting to add an abortion-related amendment Tuesday, the Texas House pulled the teeth from a bill intended to enhance criminal penalties for torturing and killing pets.

Senate Bill 762 sought to raise the penalty to a third-degree felony, which has a punishment of up to 10 years in prison, for the worst types of animal abuse.

Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, was outraged by the attempt to increase the punishment, saying abortion regulations recently approved by the House would make it only a state jail felony, with up to two years in jail, for abortion doctors who perform a “partial-birth” or a “dismemberment” abortion.

Tinderholt’s amendment proposed limiting animal cruelty to a state jail felony.

“I cannot, will not and shall not allow the Texas House to place a higher value to a pet over the life of a human being,” said Tinderholt, who earlier this session filed a bill to outlaw abortion that was not acted upon.

Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, the House sponsor of SB 762, said Tinderholt’s amendment would not only keep animal cruelty punishments unchanged, it would remove enhancement provisions that increase punishment for repeat convictions for animal cruelty.

“You chose to grandstand on this bill,” Moody told Tinderholt. “I think that’s tragic.”

TEXAS POLITICS DELIVERED EVERY DAY: Sign up for our Texas Politics email

Voting largely along party lines, the House adopted Tinderholt’s amendment 83-60, with about 10 Republicans voting against it.

After the vote, Moody told the House that criminal justice experts and two relevant committees had examined the bill before it was brought to the floor.

“What we let happen on the floor here today is you let someone who doesn’t understand criminal law change criminal law,” Moody said. “You’re going to let someone change criminal law who has no clue how that works.”

At that point, Tinderholt interrupted, calling a point of order by citing a House rule against overly personal attacks on the House floor.

Shortly thereafter, the House voted 97-39 to initially approve the bill. A final vote is scheduled for Wednesday.

Moody told the American-Statesman that his staff is studying the amendment “to see if there are opportunities to take it to a conference committee” with the Senate to work on the amendment language.

The Tinderholt amendment, Moody said, decimated a bill that was intended to make it easier to prosecute horrendous abuse against pets.

“The amendment that was adopted results in a nonsense statute that takes the highest-level offenses for animal cruelty — for crushing a dog’s head, dragging an animal behind your car, dousing an animal with an accelerant and setting it on fire — it makes that a state jail felony, which is six months to two years, and allows no enhancement,” Moody said.

“So it is a step backward on the most vicious crimes,” he said.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

HOMICIDE DETAILS: Suspect shot victim, ran him over before fleeing to Mexico, Austin police say
HOMICIDE DETAILS: Suspect shot victim, ran him over before fleeing to Mexico, Austin police say

Austin police on Wednesday named a suspect in a weekend homicide – in which the victim was shot and run over – but they believe the man has fled to Mexico.  Authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Gustavo Linan, 28, on a charge of first-degree murder in the death of 35-year-old Valente Garcia-Hernandez with bail set at ...
Community news: Pflugerville’s Assistant Police Chief McLean retiring

TRAVIS COUNTY PFLUGERVILLE Assistant police chief retiring The Pflugerville Police Department’s second in command will retire after serving the community for more than 24 years. Assistant Chief Jim McLean announced he will retire at the end of the month. McLean began his law enforcement career in 1992 as a police officer in Hutto and joined the...
Man shoves woman onto subway tracks; culprit at large
Man shoves woman onto subway tracks; culprit at large

A 49-year-old woman was injured Tuesday night when a man pushed her onto tracks at a subway station in Manhattan’s East Village, according to multiple reports. The woman, who was not identified, was pushed from the northbound platform around 9 p.m. Tuesday, WABC reported. Police said they were searching for a man in his 20s who was suspected...
Sources: Trump assistant to be top federal prosecutor in Central Texas
Sources: Trump assistant to be top federal prosecutor in Central Texas

President Donald Trump is prepared to send one of his special assistants to Central Texas to be the next U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas, the American-Statesman has learned. Two sources familiar with the search process said Texas senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn have advised Trump to replace acting U.S. Attorney Richard Durbin with...
WATCH: PolitiFact Texas unwraps stickers (without staring at eclipse)
WATCH: PolitiFact Texas unwraps stickers (without staring at eclipse)

We hope you already know that if you follow @PolitiFactTexas on Twitter, you’ll get nudged every time about the latest fact-check posted by the fact-checking project teaming reporters from the Austin American-Statesman, Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News. We encourage Twitter followers because a tweet pops the moment every...
More Stories