DALLAS (AP) – Protective orders that prevent an abuser from hurting, threatening or harassing a person will soon be extended to their pets thanks to a new Texas law.

The law is designed to help animals as well as people who have been intimidated or coerced with the abuse of a pet. It takes effect Sept. 1.

State Sen. Wendy Davis, a Democrat from Fort Worth who wrote the bill that Gov. Rick Perry recently signed into law, says it’s not about “overzealously” protecting pets. It’s about protecting battered women.

A first offense is a misdemeanor but two or more offenses are a third-degree felony.

The American Humane Association says batterers often injure, kill or threaten family pets for revenge or to psychologically control victims.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)