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Texas: Crackdown on animal cruelty, bestiality, starts Sept. 1

A new law goes into effect Sept. 1 in Texas to crack down on anyone in this state who tortures, poisons or seriously injures animals. This undated photo obtained by The Associated Press shows Desmond, a dog that was beaten, starved and strangled in Connecticut in 2012 by his owner, Alex Wullaert, who admitted to the violence but avoided jail time under a probation program for first-time offenders.
A new law goes into effect Sept. 1 in Texas to crack down on anyone in this state who tortures, poisons or seriously injures animals. This undated photo obtained by The Associated Press shows Desmond, a dog that was beaten, starved and strangled in Connecticut in 2012 by his owner, Alex Wullaert, who admitted to the violence but avoided jail time under a probation program for first-time offenders. AP

Don’t mess with Texas animals.

That’s the message state lawmakers sent when they passed — and Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law — a measure to crack down on anyone in this state who tortures, poisons or seriously injures animals.

As of Sept. 1, anyone convicted of violent animal cruelty offenses faces a third-degree felony, which comes with anywhere from two to 10 years in prison. Repeat offenders could find themselves locked up for as many as 20 years.

“The days of negligible prison sentences for the most heinous and violent acts of cruelty against our companion animals are officially a part of Texas history,” said Laura Donahue, executive director of the Texas Humane Legislation Network. “Moving forward, the punishments will fit the crime.”

Abbott recently signed Senate Bill 762 into law boosting cruelty to a non livestock animal to a felony.

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A new law goes into effect Sept. 1 in Texas to crack down on anyone in this state who tortures, poisons or seriously injures animals. In this photo provided by the SPCA Serving Erie County, Navarro, a four-year-old cat was found “marinating” in oil and peppers in the trunk of a car in Buffalo, N.Y. This photo, taken Aug. 9, 2010, was taken at the agency’s Tonawanda, N.Y., shelter infirmary. Buffalo police say officers heard the cat meowing when they stopped 51-year-old Gary Korkuc, of Cheektowaga, to ticket him for running a stop sign. Korkuc was charged with animal cruelty and released. AP

“Violent animal cruelty crimes such as torturing, cruelly killing, or causing serious bodily injury to an animal or killing, poisoning, or causing serious bodily injury to another person’s animal without the owner’s consent occurs at an alarming rate in Texas,” according to a bill analysis.

Donahue said this new law is needed particularly since reports of “extreme animal cruelty” have been growing in recent years.

“When animals are safe from harm, communities are safer,” she said.

State lawmakers also approved a measure banning bestiality —preventing Texans from having sex with animals — that goes into effect Sept. 1.

Also, Texas lawmakers approved a separate measure banning bestiality — to prevent Texans from having sex with animals — as of Sept. 1.

Under the plans, Texans who have sexual contact with animals could receive a sentence of up to two years in jail.

And if the animal has severe injuries or dies because of the sexual contact — or if that contact occurs in the presence of a child younger than 18 — the offender could face a longer sentence behind bars.

Want fries with that?

U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey detoured from his regular day job recently.

Instead of debating policies with congressional colleagues, he served up burgers and shakes.

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U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey Max Faulkner mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

Veasey, D-Fort Worth, worked a day at the Big State Fountain Grill in Irving, learning about the diner and how it works.

He served food, helped with dishes, cleaned tables and more.

This is part of his “Marc Means Business” workdays, a years-long effort for him to get to know more constituents in the 33rd Congressional District that stretches from Fort Worth to Dallas

Don’t forget to vote

Tarrant County voters: Don’t put away your voter registration cards just yet.

Voters in Saginaw and Southlake will soon be heading back to the polls.

In Saginaw, officials called a special election for July 29 to fill the unexpired terms for the mayor and two city council seats. First, Mayor Gary Brinkley resigned after accepting an out-of-state job. Then Place 5 Councilman Chris Barngrover resigned because he’s moving out of the city, and Place 3 Councilman Todd Flippo resigned his post to run for mayor. Filing for these posts ended June 19; early voting runs Wednesday through July 25.

Meanwhile, the city of Southlake has called a special election for Sept. 9 to address the resignation of Councilman Gary Fawks. An election will be held to find a replacement. Filing for this post runs through Monday; early voting runs Aug. 23-Sept. 5.

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley

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