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Leaving Your Dogs Chained Up Outside Will Become Illegal Under New Texas Law

Leaving Your Dogs Chained Up Outside Will Become Illegal Under New Texas Law

On Monday, the state's governor Greg Abbott signed the bill following the Texas legislature's third special session of the year.

A new Texas law will soon make it illegal for pet owners to leave their dogs chained up outside. On Monday, the state's governor Greg Abbott signed the bill following the Texas legislature's third special session of the year. Under Senate Bill 5, which will go into effect on January 18, 2022, pet owners are banned from tying up their dogs outside using chains or weighed-down restraints. Specifying the length of an outdoor restraint, it said that it must be 10 feet or at five times the length (nose to tail) of the animal. Moreover, owners will not be allowed to leave their restrained dogs outside and unattended unless they make sure that their pet has access to "adequate" shelter, including shade from sunlight, protection from "inclement weather," and drinkable water.



 

 

The executive director of the Texas Humane Legislation Network, Shelby Bobosky, told the Tribune that last year's winter storm pointed out the need for "some basic standards in place for dogs who permanently live outside." The resultant new law, according to PEOPLE, abolishes a rule that currently restricts law enforcement from stepping in until after 24 hours of a dog being in illegal conditions. Those who breach the law will face a Class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $500. Those who repeatedly violate the rule could face a Class B misdemeanor, which is a midrange criminal offense in Texas that carries up to 180 days in county jail and/or a fine of up to $2000.

Now the law does make some exceptions like when owners are in recreational areas or during public camping. Animals involved in shepherding livestock, hunting, and cultivating agricultural products are also spared from it. Based on the circumstances, pooches may be left untended in an open-air truck bed and can be kept using some temporary restraints, however, the law does not clearly outline how. 



 

 

Back in June, Abbott vetoed a previous version of the bill, SB 474, saying that the words used in it were too "micro-managing," according to KSAT. In a veto statement, he said, "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. Texas is no place for this kind of micro-managing and over-criminalization." At the time, his decision drew intense outrage on social media with hashtags like #AbbottHatesDogs trending on Twitter following the release of his veto statement. 



 

 

President of the Texas Animal Control Association, Jamey Cantrell, told the Texas Tribune that he believed the resentment on social media was what pushed Abbott to sign Senate Bill 5, which is also known as the Safe Outdoor Dogs Bill. "If there was no outcry… it would still be something that we’d be planning on working on next legislative session," explained Cantrell. "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." Per reports, SB 474 and SB 5 are quite similar but the latest one clearly describes the appropriate treatment of a tethered dog.

The new version includes the "definition of inclement weather and provisions clarifying that dogs must be able to avoid standing water and excessive animal waste," as quoted by CBS. Thus, the bill got another chance during the special legislative session. State senator Eddie Lucio Jr. of Brownsville, who is also the author of the bill, recently shared that the changes made to the previous bill were at best "minor." He also expressed his hope that the newly-passed law would "give a lot of dogs (in the state) a new way of life." 

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