On October 25, 2021, after the most contentious Texas legislative session in memory, the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act was signed into law. THLN never wavered during the six-year quest to pass this legislation, even when it was targeted by an extremist lawmaker and unexpectedly vetoed.

Texas dogs and the communities where they reside deserve a common-sense, balanced policy governing the restraint of dogs outdoors. The Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, which goes into effect January 18, 2022, achieves that by:

  • Defining adequate shelter to protect dogs from extreme temperatures, inclement weather, and standing water. Previously, there was no definition for shelter, thus tethered dogs routinely perished from exposure.
  • Requiring access to drinkable water. Before the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, state law did not include this vital requirement.
  • Requiring safe restraints. The Safe Outdoor Dogs Act strikes the use of chains. Other means of restraint, such as cable tie-outs, may be used so long as they are correctly attached to a collar or harness designed to restrain a dog.

Arguably the most significant change wrought by the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act is removing the 24-hour warning period that allowed bad actors to flout the law. Officers can take immediate action for tethered dogs in distress from now on.

Exceptions to the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act
The Safe Outdoor Dogs Act does not prevent owners from tethering dogs. The law requires that unattended dogs are tethered in a way that keeps them and the people around them safe, and there are several exceptions to the law. The Safe Outdoor Dogs Act does not apply to dogs who are:

  • Attached to a cable-tie out or trolley system.
  • Camping or using other public recreational areas.
  • Herding livestock or assisting with farming tasks.
  • Hunting or participating in field trials.
  • In an open-air truck bed while the owner completes a temporary task.

Restraining Dogs Without Using Chains
The American Veterinary Medical Association and the Center for Disease Control agree that chaining dogs is an inappropriate method of restraint. Not only do chains tangle, rust, and break, but they often cause pain and injury.

Conversely, cable tie-outs and trolley systems are designed to restrain dogs, so they are lightweight, strong, and flexible. On average, they cost between $15-$30 and are easy to find in stores and online. Below are links to highly rated cable tie-outs and trolley systems:

  1. Tumbo Trolley Dog Containment System
  2. Expawlorer Dog Tie Out Cable
  3. Boss Pet Prestige Skyline Trolly
  4. BV Pet Heavy Extra-Large Tie Out Cable
  5. Petest Trolley Runner Cable
  6. XiaZ Dog Runner Tie Out Cable

Watch this short video to see examples of cable tie-outs recommended by a company that rates affordable pet products. Always install cable tie-outs and trolley systems according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Read FAQs

When the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act goes into effect on January 18, 2022, we all want our friends and neighbors who have dogs tethered outdoors to be prepared for this change.

The following list of resources is available to qualified applicants. Bear in mind each organization has its own application process and service area.

Local nonprofits and civic groups:

BASTROP & TRAVIS COUNTIES: Dejando Huella ATX – donates dog houses & specializes in outreach to Spanish-speaking dog owners. | Contact: [email protected]

CORPUS CHRISTI: People Assisting Animal Control organizes pet wellness & educational events, distributing cable tie-outs. | Contact: [email protected]

DALLAS/FORT WORTH: SPCA of Texas’ Russell H. Perry Pet Resource Center provides temporary support to pet owners in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex who are experiencing financial hardship and are at risk of having to surrender their pets. | Contact: [email protected]

MCLENNAN COUNTY: Cribs For Canines provides dog houses to under-resourced dog owners. | Contact: Cribs for Canines (cribs4canines.com)

MIDLAND: Fix West Texas donates dog houses and other pet supplies to under-resourced dog owners. | Contact: [email protected]

NORTH TEXAS: The Love Pit is a Dallas-based nonprofit that improves the quality of life for pit bull-type dogs through rescue, education, and outreach in the DFW area. | Contact: [email protected]

PLEASANTON: Atascosa Animal Allies donates dog houses within the city limits of Pleasanton, Texas to those who qualify. They also operate a TNR program for feral cats and host monthly subsidized spay/neuter clinics for under-resourced pet owners in Atascosa County. | Contact: [email protected]

TRAVIS COUNTY: The City of Austin Fencing Assistance Program donates fence material to under-resourced dog owners in Travis County. The city also donates dog houses to qualified residents. | Contact: [email protected]

TYLER: The SPCA of East Texas donates doghouses and other pet supplies to under-resourced dog owners. | Contact: [email protected]

VICTORIA: South Texas Tales – donates dog houses and other resources to under-resourced dog owners. | Contact: [email protected]

WICHITA FALLS: Chain Off Wichita Falls – donates fencing materials and labor for under-resourced dog owners. | Contact: [email protected]

WILLIAMSON COUNTY: Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter – serving Round Rock, Cedar Park, Leander, Hutto, and rural Williamson County. Donates dog houses and other items to under-resourced dog owners. | Contact: [email protected]

Chain Off | P.E.T.S. Low-Cost Spay and Neuter Clinic (petsclinic.org)

National Organizations:

The Home Depot | Community Impact Grants Grants are available to nonprofit groups working to help local citizens.

Fences for Fido Provides support and mentorship to groups dedicated to getting dogs off chains | Contact: [email protected]


THLN wants to help those in underserved communities, and we need your help! We encourage everyone who wants to see the successful implementation of the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act to engage at the local level. Consider doing the following in your community to help outdoor dogs:

  • Partner with your local shelter or rescue group to fundraise for dog houses and cable tie-outs.
  • Co-host a neighborhood event with your local shelter/rescue to distribute free cable tie-outs. If the event is part of a spay/neuter or vaccine clinic or pet food distribution event, dog owners are sure to attend.
  • Attend dog-friendly public events and distribute Safe Outdoor Dogs Act Fact Sheets.
  • Share Safe Outdoor Dogs Act information on all your social media platforms.
  • Add cable tie-outs and dog houses to your shelter or rescue group "Wish List."
  • Ask local retailers like Home Depot, Lowe's, Ace Hardware, and Tractor Supply to donate dog houses, fencing materials, or cable tie-outs.
  • Many high schoolers and college students need community service hours – why not involve them in a dog house building project? Whether it is the Eagle Scouts, ROTC, National Honor Society, church youth groups, or high school shop classes – these groups are all looking to make a positive community impact.
  • Help your local shelter or rescue create a "Donate a Dog House" program.

Click here for free DIY Doghouse blueprints.

Are you already working in your community to help under-resourced dog owners? Do you have other ideas for assisting folks in complying with the new law? We'd love to hear it!

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Show Us Your Success Stories
The Safe Outdoor Dogs Act starts a brand-new chapter for Texas dogs. And nothing is better for showing the impact of this law than your stories of helping those in need. Send us your photos, videos, and firsthand accounts of helping those in your community…we can't wait to see your success!

 

 


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