Sharks and Barks: Texas Two-Step for Animals

Two bills recently signed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott mean good news for animals. HB 1579 prohibits buying and selling shark fins in the state, and makes Texas the 10th state to institute such a ban, following California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, and Washington. Following passage of the other state bans, trade shifted to Texas, which became the transit point for about half of the US trade in shark fins. Under the new law, fishermen may still sell other parts of the shark, but they may not sell the fins.

HB 593, a bill requiring training for Texas law enforcement in nonlethal responses to encounters with dogs, was passed in the aftermath of a series of officer-involved shootings of dogs across the state. This new law requires training in canine encounters and canine behavior for all new officers beginning January 1, 2016, and as a condition of promotion for existing officers. It specifies a minimum of four hours of classroom instruction and, most crucially, practical training. Texas is not alone in facing this problem, and more states and local jurisdictions are imposing similar training standards.