What constitutes animal cruelty in Texas?

Animal cruelty is a serious criminal offense. The state of Texas has strong laws on the books about what constitutes animal cruelty.

Most people are familiar with the basic definition, which can include animal fighting and physical abuse. However, there are other forms of cruelty that could land a person in jail. Whether a person owns pets or livestock, all animals have rights to a basic level of quality of life.


Anyone who owns an animal needs to provide the creature with basic necessities. This includes:

  • Water
  • Food
  • Veterinary care
  • Shelter

In terms of shelter, this involves letting a pet inside when extreme weather conditions are prevalent. Around Houston, the winters can get as cold as 53° Fahrenheit. This drastic drop in temperature can greatly affect some breeds of dogs. Pet owners should be capable of providing their animals with proper shelter to keep their furry companions comfortable.


In Texas, it is a crime to abandon a pet without making any accommodations for it. After adopting a pet, various circumstances can come up that prevent the person from taking care of it. It is understandable. However, it is illegal to simply leave an animal on the side of the road. Pet owners should always try to find another home for an animal instead of abandoning it.

Leaving a pet in a vehicle

Different states have different laws on the books about whether leaving an animal in a locked car on a hot day is illegal. Currently, Texas does not have any explicit laws about the practice. However, if a person leaves a dog in a hot car, then it would most likely fall under the state’s general animal cruelty laws. The temperature inside a vehicle can get much hotter than what it is outside, so owners should never leave animals inside a car, even if he or she is only leaving for a few minutes.