The legality of shooting dogs in Texas

AUSTIN (KXAN) – After Austin Pets Alive! Saying it’s caring for dogs with gunshot wounds, KXAN delves into Texas animal cruelty laws.

Basic provisions of the law “Killing, poisoning or causing grievous bodily harm to an animal without the valid consent of the owner.”

“I think shooting a dog should be a last resort,” said Eric Torberson, a central Texas attorney who has handled several cases involving animals.

The law says you can shoot a dog if it attacks your livestock, your own pets, your children or yourself.

“Would a reasonable person think they need to prevent serious bodily harm to a child or themselves? That would be a factor in deciding whether it’s animal cruelty or self-defense,” says Toberson. “You can’t kill a dog just because it invaded your property.”

According to the Austin Police Department (APD), gun laws — city ordinances and state laws — must also be considered in these situations. You must not injure or endanger another person while shooting, the department said.

The APD also said that in Texas, where dogs are considered property, “you can shoot/kill your dog for any reason.”

However, the law does say that you must do so “humanely”. This means you cannot “torture an animal or kill an animal in a cruel manner or cause grievous bodily harm to an animal”.

A “cruel way” is defined as “a way of causing or allowing unreasonable or unwarranted pain or suffering”.

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