(a) In this section:
(1) “Qualified facility dog” means a dog that:
(A) is a graduate of a program operated by an assistance dog organization that is a member of a nationally recognized assistance dog association; or
(B) before January 1, 2021, on the approval of the court, served in a court proceeding by accompanying a witness who was testifying.
(2) “Qualified therapy dog” means a dog that successfully completes a program operated by an organization that registers, insures, or certifies a therapy dog and the dog's handler as meeting or exceeding the standards of practice in animal-assisted interventions.
(b) Any party to an action filed in a court in this state in which a proceeding related to the action will be held may petition the court for an order authorizing a qualified facility dog or qualified therapy dog to be present with a witness who is testifying before the court through:
(1) in-person testimony; or
(2) closed-circuit video teleconferencing testimony.
(c) The court may enter an order authorizing a qualified facility dog or qualified therapy dog to accompany a witness testifying at the court proceeding if:
(1) the presence of the dog will assist the witness in providing testimony; and
(2) the party petitioning for the order provides proof of liability insurance coverage in effect for the dog.
(d) A handler who is trained to manage the qualified facility dog or qualified therapy dog must accompany the dog provided for a witness at a court proceeding.
(e) A party to the action must petition the court for an order under Subsection (b) not later than the 14th day before the date of the court proceeding.
(f) A court may:
(1) impose restrictions on the presence of the qualified facility dog or qualified therapy dog during the court proceeding; and
(2) issue instructions to the jury, as applicable, regarding the presence of the dog.
Added by Acts 2021, 87th Leg., ch. 204 (H.B. 1071), § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2021.