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Abandoning your animal is illegal in Texas; if you can't take care of your pets, here's how to surrender them

Abandoning your pet is a criminal offense. You can get a misdemeanor or a felony for it.

BRYAN, Texas — Animal cruelty appears in many different ways, but all actions are against the law. A Bryan woman recently was charged with cruelty to animals, after she allegedly abandoned her dog and it found its way into the hands of the Brazos County Sheriff’s Office. If you can no longer take care of your pet, there are legal choices you can make to make sure your pet is still cared for. 

“The worst thing you want to see when you’re volunteering in the shelter is somebody happily walk in where the dog or cat has had a home and they think they're doing us a favor to give us an animal,” said Wienerspiel President Judy LeUnes 

 For many, a pet is more than just an animal. It becomes a family member and a friend. But when someone is unable to care for their furry friends any longer, setting your pet up for success to be cared for or adopted will help them get to their next home. 

“Make sure all the shots are up to date. If you live in this community, make sure you have a local vet. Make sure they are spayed or neutered. That makes them more adoptable. And basic commands...a lot of times people think well I can’t deal with this animal... even just [allotting] some time to teach your pet how to sit or stay and walk on a leash, it's going to be more adoptable. You want people to want the animal and not to think why is the owner get rid of it,” said LeUnes. 

Shelters are often busy looking after homeless animals and doing your research ahead of time can help the shelters and your pet out. 

“It’s not a good thing to take your own pet to the shelter find a rescue. A lot of times people don’t plan and if they realize that they're going to have to rehome the animal, they're going to have to start that day they realize that, whether they got three months in their apartment or something,” said LeUnes. 

If you are having issues at home with your pet, local resources and vets are also available to help you through them.  

“It’s not always the neglect that you think about. Sometimes it’s the people. They've got multiple pets in the home and the pets just aren’t getting along and sometimes our animal teams are able to talk through them problems over the phone with the pet owners and [they're] able to keep the pets in the homes. A lot of pet parents just don't know how to sort out those difficult situations in their homes and that’s okay too,” said Aggieland Humane Society Communications Coordinator Darby McKenzie. 

What is not okay and is considered a criminal offense is abandoning your pet. 

“Abandoning an animal goes under cruelty to non-livestock animals. That can range anywhere from a misdemeanor to a felony. it depends on which part of the cruelty it is. So for abandonment that’s going to be a misdemeanor, but that law also goes over to abuse towards animals, any kind of torturing towards animals...not providing them with shelter, food water stuff of that nature Of course dog fighting is in that as well," said Brazos County Sherriff's Office PIO Deputy David Wilcox.

Depending on the consequences of the situation, you will get a misdemeanor or felony. Misdemeanors can mean jail, a fine or both. 

If you are bringing your pet to be rehomed at a shelter, you must go to the one within your city limits.