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New rules for 'outside dogs' in Texas come into effect next year

The Safe Outdoor Dogs Act prohibits chaining up dogs outdoors in Texas and requires dogs have adequate shelter.

AUSTIN, Texas — After a nearly identical bill was vetoed by Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this year, Senate Bill 5, also known as the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, was signed into law on Monday.

The governor gave the bill, with slight changes, a second chance during the third special legislative session after he faced criticism for vetoing the previous bill, which passed both Texas chambers with wide bipartisan support. At the time, Abbott said, “Texas is no place for this kind of micro-managing and over-criminalization.”

Some of the big changes include banning chain tethers and weights, giving a dog access to adequate shelter that protects them during extreme weather events, giving a dog access to clean drinkable water, having a properly fitted collar on your dog, and if a dog is restrained, it needs to be done safely. The dog must be able to sit, stand and move around comfortably.

The new law also eliminates the 24-hour waiting period for law enforcement to intervene in cases of inhumane treatment.

The only differences with the previous bill vetoed by the governor include the definition of inclement weather and the material for a dog’s collar. A provision was added to clarify dogs must be able to avoid standing water and excessive animal waste. The new law also allows a dog to be left in a truck bed for as long as is “reasonably necessary for the owner to complete a temporary task.”

A violation is a Class C misdemeanor and becomes a Class B misdemeanor if it’s a repeated offense.

“It’s cleaning up a section of the current Texas health and safety code to make it more clear what pet owners need to do in order to keep their dog safe when they are restrained outdoors, unattended,” Director of Government Relations for the Texas Humane Legislation Network Stacy Sutton Kirby said.

Kirby says for years they’ve been pushing for stricter laws when it comes to pet shelter and safety.

“Under the part that defines how you can restrain a dog unattended outdoors, there wasn’t a provision that defined adequate shelter,” Kirby said.

She said there also wasn’t a requirement to give a dog access to drinkable water.

The law goes into effect on Jan. 18, 2022.

KENS contributed to this report.


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