AUSTIN, Texas — A lot of animal lovers in the Lone Star State are unhappy with Governor Greg Abbott after he vetoed a bill known as the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act.
Senate Bill 474 would have made it illegal to chain up dogs and leave them without drinkable water, adequate shade or shelter. It also called for a ban on tethering dogs with heavy chains.
The governor is taking heat from animal-loving Texans who created the hashtag #AbbottHatesDogs on Twitter to express their disgust with the veto.
“I’m disappointed in the governor,” said Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville. “I don't agree with everything he does, but I respect him when it comes to quality of life and protecting life. I want to include dogs in that issue.”
Abbott said Texas already has the statutes in place to protect dogs from animal cruelty, and the penalties proposed in Lucio’s bill seemed excessive.
“Texas is no place for this kind of micro-managing and over-criminalization,” he said in the veto statement.
Shelby Bobosky, executive director of Texas Humane Legislation Network, a nonprofit that lobbies in support of animal rights, said the organization’s members are devastated by the veto, and the bill would have “clarified the vague language that makes the statute completely unenforceable.”
“All the elements Governor Abbott cited as ‘micromanagement’ were carefully negotiated compromises that addressed concerns from lawmakers in both parties to strike the right balance for our diverse state,” she said in a statement. “The passage of the bill in both chambers with overwhelming bipartisan support from rural, urban, and suburban members was the result of six years of tireless effort by THLN and all stakeholders who care for dogs inhumanely restrained outdoors.”
“It's not a political issue with me — it's a humane issue,” Lucio said. “We need to do our best to take care of them.”
In the Houston area, at least two dogs died from heat distress last week, according to the Houston SPCA. They said the dogs were left outside in miserable heat with no access to water, food or shelter.
An SPCA spokesperson said it would be up to the DA's office, whether the owners would be charged.