Ball and chain: The harsh realities of Texas’ ineffective dog tethering laws

This story about a dog with a collar deeply embedded in its neck makes it abundantly clear: Texas’ current laws on tethering need to be strengthened. 

Dogs tethered by heavy chains can suffer injuries from the weight of the chains as well as endure painfully embedded collars. Dogs can also become entangled in their chains, leaving them cut off from any available food, water, or shelter.

Texas’ current laws do nothing to combat these harsh realities.

To our knowledge, a citation under current state law – which is more than 10 years old -- has never been issued and/or heard by a court. Many animal control officers have, for all practical purposes, given up on issuing tethering violations as the law is incredibly difficult to enforce. An animal control officer testified about this during one of our hearings before a legislative committee in March 2017.

The current law gives violators 24 hours to fix a violation, requiring the officer to return to the premises (which is inefficient and impractical) a full day after witnessing inhumane tethering. This gives offenders ample time to bring their dogs indoors or otherwise “fix” the tethering situation, only to return to inhumane practices after the return visit from the officer. It also allows for inhumane tethering except: during the hours of 10pm to 6am; in a location within 500 feet of a school; or in cold weather below 32° or during a heat advisory or storm warning.

Our inhumane tethering bill is about more than ending chains—it’s also about ensuring that dogs have adequate collars, shelter, and water. It would replace our current, ambiguous law with a straightforward, enforceable and understandable law outlining specific requirements for tethering a dog. It would give dog owners clear and understandable requirements for tethering, and provide law enforcement with clear standards for properly deciding whether a violation exists.

Ultimately, our bill would allow animal control officers to stop a dangerous tethering situation before it becomes a cruelty case.  

If you followed our bill last session, you know how close we came to passing this law. We aren’t giving up, but our work takes time, resources, and contributions from our community of supporters. As we begin the work on our agenda for the next legislative session, we urge you to support us NOW.

Together, we can break their chains.


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