Full Statute Name:  Vernon's Texas Statutes and Codes Annotated. Government Code. Title 2. Judicial Branch. Subtitle A. Courts. Chapter 21. General Provisions.. § 21.012. Presence of Qualified Facility Dog or Qualified Therapy Dog in Court Proceeding

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Primary Citation:  V. T. C. A., Government Code § 21.012 Country of Origin:  United States Last Checked:  February, 2022 Alternate Citation:  TX GOVT § 21.012 Date Adopted:  2021 Historical: 
Summary: Texas enacted a facility dog/courthouse dog law in 2021. Under the law, 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. 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. A handler must accompany the qualified facility dog (as defined in the law).

(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.

Credits
Added by Acts 2021, 87th Leg., ch. 204 (H.B. 1071), § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2021.

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