A new bill in Texas has been proposed to make it easier for cities to investigate dangerous dogs and hold owners accountable for dog attacks. The bill, HB 4759, was prompted by a recent dog attack in San Antonio where an 81-year-old man was killed and his wife was left in critical condition. Both were attacked by two dogs as they were entering their vehicles. A relative and a firefighter were also injured in the attack. The incident has underscored the need for more comprehensive laws around dangerous dogs in the state.
On Friday, the Texas Senate Committee on Criminal Justice moved HB 4759 forward to the Senate floor. The bill would require animal authority departments, such as San Antonio Animal Care Services, to investigate an incident when a report on a dangerous dog is made without requiring a sworn witness statement. Currently, a sworn witness statement is required by state law according to Animal Care Services Director Shannon Sims. This makes it challenging for individuals to report dangerous dogs and for authorities to hold owners accountable for their pets.
If HB 4759 becomes law, penalties for the owners of dangerous dogs would also increase when there was an incident. The minimum penalty for a dog attack, if a dog escapes the owner’s property, will be a class B misdemeanor. Currently, these can be class C misdemeanor charges. Dog attacks that result in the victim’s death would be a second-degree felony under the new bill. This would ensure that those responsible for dangerous dogs would face more severe punishments in the event of an attack.
The passing of HB 4759 would also make it easier for community members to report dangerous dogs. Under the new law, such reports could even be made anonymously. This would ensure that fear of retaliation would not prevent individuals from reporting dangerous dogs in their communities. The bill has the potential to save lives and prevent future attacks, ensuring that communities can live in safety.
HB 4759 has already passed the Texas House of Representatives and now only needs to be voted on by the Senate. It has 10 days left to become law before the legislature ends on May 29. For now, the future of the bill remains uncertain, but many advocates hope that it will be passed so that no more lives are lost due to dangerous dogs in Texas.