Rep. Sarah Davis is carrying HB 1156, a bill that focuses on animal rights and creates offenses for restraining dogs in a certain manner. The bill makes it an offense to leave a dog tethered outside unless the dog has access to shelter, shade from the sun, drinkable water, a place to go when there is standing water. Even under those circumstances, a dog cannot be tethered with a chain, a weighted tether, must be attached to a proper harness, and the leash must be at least 10 feet long or five times the length of the dog.
Beyond any of these specifics, the bill codifies a broad provision: No restraint can be used that causes the dog pain.
The bill’s senate companion, SB 1090 by Sen. Eddie Lucio, has passed out of the Senate and been sent to the House, but has not had a hearing. Davis’ bill passed out of committee and was set for a debate on the House floor. However, it was derailed by a point of order first called by Rep. Dustin Burrows. However, he withdrew his point of order and a second one was called by Reps. Tony Tinderholt and Cecil Bell which was sustained. As a result, the bill was sent back to the committee.
In an effort to pass this bill, Rep. Davis is attempting to codify the concept of animal “pain”, and by putting it into statute, courts can convict people not just on the broader basis of animal abuse, but on the assertion that they’re experiencing pain. This concept goes beyond traditional animal rights activism and ventures into a theology called Animal Liberation. From PETA’s own website:
“After reading Animal Liberation, I realized that in the same way that racist and sexist views allowed us to discriminate against minorities and women, speciesism allowed us to inscribe an inferior status on animals and to regard them not as individuals, but as objects and means to fulfill our desires.”
This seems to be a common philosophy among a couple legislators this session.
filed HB 1357, a piece of legislation that would move the penalties for animal abuse to the code on assault family violence, putting animal abuse on the same level as family violence. That provision, however, was stripped off in committee. Rep. Celia Israel also followed this train of thought in her HB 478 creating immunity for anyone who removed a child or domestic animal from a hot car, again placing animals and humans on the same level. Her bill, too, was amended and passed out of the House with no provision for animals, just for humans.
Davis’ bill is currently in the House Public Health Committee. To contact members of that
committee, view the committee membership directory.
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