A new Texas law that makes it a crime to inhumanely restrain a dog goes went into effect Tuesday, establishing basic standards of shelter and care for unattended dogs restrained outdoors.
An earlier version of the Safe Outdoor Dogs Bill passed with bipartisan support in May of 2021, but Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed it, saying Texas was no place for such “micro-managing” and “over-criminalization.”Outraged pet owners responded on social media with the hashtag #AbbottHatesDogs, which trended following the veto.
The new version of the Safe Outdoor Dogs Bill — signed in October of last year — isn't dissimilar from the vetoed proposal. However, it outlines the proper treatment of a tethered dog more clearly than earlier legislation, according to observers.
In the new bill, dog collars must be made of “material specifically designed to be placed around the neck of a dog,” and restraints must be no shorter than five times the dog’s length. The law also says dogs must have shelter from “inclement weather.” Violations are considered a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $500.
The new law mirrors two San Antonio ordinances already on the books and supports their enforcement by escalating penalties for repeat offenders, according to a statement from the city's Animal Care Services Department.
Residents who have previously been convicted of the law can face a Class B Misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in the County jail or a fine up to $2,000.
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