Animal cruelty is a serious offense in Williamson County Texas. The offenses listed here under Texas animal cruelty laws can be classified as a felony and can send you to jail for up to two years fine you up to$10,000.

Largely in response to unusually cruel treatment to a puppy named Loco, whose eyes were intentionally gouged out, the Texas legislature passed laws often referred to as “Loco’s Law”. Prior to this time animal cruelty in Texas was not considered a felony. Today convictions are classified as a Class A misdemeanor, or if previously convicted, a felony. These laws, House Bill 653 and Senate Bill 1724 went into effect September 1, 2001.


The Texas Penal Code lists these actions to non-livestock animals as cruelty criminal offenses:

  • Tortures an animal or in a cruel manner kills or causes serious bodily injury to an animal
  • Without the owner's effective consent, kills, administers poison to, or causes serious bodily injury to an animal
  • Fails unreasonably to provide necessary food, water, care, or shelter for an animal in the person's custody
  • Abandons unreasonably an animal in the person's custody
  • Transports or confines an animal in a cruel manner
  • Without the owner's effective consent, causes bodily injury to an animal
  • Causes one animal to fight with another animal, if either animal is not a dog
  • Uses a live animal as a lure in dog race training or in dog coursing on a racetrack
  • Seriously overworks an animal

Animals considered livestock are addressed in Texas Penal Code 42.09. The offenses are very similar, but there are differences. Penalties are similar as well.


There are defenses against accusations of animal cruelty. Steve Hesse has extensive experience in Williamson County animal cruelty cases. Listed below are enumerated defenses against these accusations per the Texas Penal Code. It is not always a simple matter for the prosecution to make a determination in your case. Animal cruelty is a very emotional issue and negative perceptions can be misleading and harmful to your case. A lawyer familiar with the Williamson County Court and Justice System, and the laws concerning non-livestock and livestock animal cruelty is essential in getting you the best possible outcome your individual circumstances allow.

It is a defense to prosecution under this section that:

  • The actor had a reasonable fear of bodily injury to the actor or to another person by a dangerous wild animal.
  • The actor was engaged in bona fide experimentation for scientific research.
  • It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (b)(2) or (6) that:
  • The animal was discovered on the person's property in the act of or after injuring or killing the person's livestock animals or damaging the person's crops and that the person killed or injured the animal at the time of this discovery; or
  • The person killed or injured the animal within the scope of the person's employment as a public servant or in furtherance of activities or operations associated with electricity transmission or distribution, electricity generation or operations associated with the generation of electricity, or natural gas delivery.
  • It is an exception to the application of this section that the conduct engaged in by the actor is a generally accepted and otherwise lawful if:
  • The conduct occurring solely for the purpose of or in support of:
  • fishing, hunting, or trapping, wildlife management, wildlife or depredation control, or shooting preserve practices as regulated by state and federal law:
  • animal husbandry or agriculture practice involving livestock animals.

This section does not create a civil cause of action for damages or enforcement of the section.


Steve B. Hesse Jr. is a Texas Board Certified criminal law specialist who spent 6 years as an Assistant District Attorney in the Williamson County District Attorney's Office. During this time Steve investigated and prosecuted the most serious crimes in Williamson County. Mr. Hesse is now one of the top criminal Defense attorneys in Williamson County. As early as 2006, Steve was recognized as "Prosecutor of the Year" by the Williamson County Children's Advocacy Center for his efforts in protecting children from criminal offenders.

Steve Hesse is particularly effective in defending these types of charges in Williamson County. Mr. Hesse uses his extensive experience in these areas of law to create the most favorable outcome for you. Mr. Hesse is available to make sure your constitutional rights are fully protected. Call 512-930-2120 or fill out the contact form now for an initial free consultation to discuss your legal matter.