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New Texas Law Will Make It Illegal To Chain Up Dogs Outside

Texas dog owners will not be able to chain up their pets outside anymore based on a new law, which goes into effect on Jan. 18, 2022. Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill on Monday after vetoing a previous version this summer that had passed both legislative chambers with bipartisan support. The earlier version of the bill was vetoed by the governor a few months ago over the bill’s “micro-managing” language in relation to items such as “the tailoring of the dog’s collar, the time the dog spends in the bed of a truck, and the ratio of tether-to-dog length.”

The new law passed during the state legislature’s third special session of the year states that dogs cannot be left outside unless they have protection from the elements and a shelter that has enough room. The dog should have access to drinkable water as well. It will be illegal for owners to tie up their dogs outside with chains or weighed-down restraints. An outdoor restraint should be 10 feet long or five times the dog’s length from nose to tail, reports PEOPLE. The law also eliminates the current rule of a 24-hour waiting period for law enforcement to intervene when inhumane treatment is reported. Those who violate the new law will face a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500 and those who commit a repeat offense could face a Class B misdemeanor. Certain exceptions to the rule include public camping or recreational areas. Owners and their dogs who take part in hunting, shepherding livestock, and cultivating agricultural products are also exempt.

“Senate Bill 474 would compel every dog owner, on pain of criminal penalties, to monitor things like the tailoring of the dog’s collar, the time the dog spends in the bed of a truck, and the ratio of tether-to-dog length, as measured from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail,” Abbott said in a veto statement for the bill’s previous version, SB 474, according to KSAT. “Texas is no place for this kind of micro-managing and over-criminalization.” After Abbott released the statement, he received tons of backlash on social media where #AbbottHatesDogs started trending soon after his statement. According to Jamey Cantrell, president of the Texas Animal Control Association, the backlash is what is likely to have led Abbott to sign the revised bill. “If there was no outcry … it would still be something that we’d be planning on working on next legislative session,” Cantrell explained to The Texas Tribune in an article published earlier this month. “But collectively, the Texans that did come through and make their voices heard, they’re the ones who are really responsible for where we’re at right now.”

The new law is more specific and bans the use of heavyweights and chains as restraints and states that dog collars must be made of “material specifically designed to be placed around the neck of a dog.” Shelby Bobosky, executive director of the Texas Humane Legislation Network, pointed out to the Tribune that last winter’s devastating winter storm called for the need for “some basic standards in place for dogs who permanently live outside.”  State senator and author of the bill Eddie Lucio Jr. of Brownsville, recently told the paper that the changes to the previous bill were “minor” and that he hoped the law would “give a lot of dogs a new way of life” in the state