Friday, October 29, 2021
5 total hours of CE
Learn about the LINK and why passing legislation at the federal and state levels can help us detect violence towards children, domestic partners, and our elderly populations.
All sessions have been submitted for continuing education credit through The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement (AAWA), and The State Bar of Texas!
Shelby Bobosky, Esq., Executive Director, Texas Humane Legislation Network
Stacy Sutton Kerby, Director of Government Relations, Texas Humane Legislation Network
Jessica Hagmaier published Safe Outdoor Dog Act Passes Texas House & Senate in Latest News 2021-09-06 09:29:07 -0500
THLN's work on the Safe Outdoors Dog Act has been featured in the Summer edition of Texas Dog Monthly.
Read the full article here.
Jessica Hagmaier published GUEST COLUMN: Abbott’s reasons for vetoing dog legislation were clear in Latest News 2021-08-06 20:45:09 -0500
BY SHELBY BOBOSKY
PUBLISHED JULY 22, 2021
Recently, the Responsible Pet Owners Alliance published an opinion piece taking aim at broad issues within animal welfare and, more specifically, the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act (SB 474), which passed the House and Senate this session but was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Greg Abbott.
Unfortunately, the latter was largely mischaracterized as was the Texas Humane Legislation Network, the only mainstream organization that follows no national agenda, just what’s good for Texas and its animals.
THLN has more than 27,000 members throughout Texas and proudly represents their voices, and the voices of thousands more animal lovers and advocates, lobbying for common sense legislation in the Texas Capitol as we were founded by Texans to exclusively focus on the unique challenges facing animals in our state.
Let’s focus on the facts surrounding SB 474.
First, the bill would have established basic standards of shelter and care for dogs left outdoors and provided much-needed clarification to existing law to promote the safety of animals and the people around them. It does not change the nature of the current law — it simply makes it enforceable.
All the elements Abbott and RPOA have cited as “micromanagement” were carefully negotiated compromises that addressed concerns from lawmakers of both parties to strike the right balance for our diverse state. The bill received wide bipartisan support in both chambers and had more than 90 co-authors sign onto it in the House, including Lufkin Rep. Trent Ashby.
When RPOA tries to classify a bill with this much bipartisan support as “extremist,” we would take it with a grain of salt.
To further avoid infringing upon the rights of dog owners, THLN worked closely with lawmakers across the aisle to include key exemptions in the bill, including for dogs restrained in public places like parks and campgrounds, those used for farming, field trials and hunting tasks, dogs restrained on a trolley system, and those temporarily unattended in an open-air truck bed. In fact, the “unintentional consequences” RPOA lists for underserved and rural dog owners are actually covered by SB 474’s exemptions.
Finally, SB 474 would not “over-criminalize” unlawful restraint. The criminal offense language remains the same as the law that is currently in place. We worked with Texas law enforcement organizations and animal control officers to ensure it would not have unintended consequences for everyday Texans and earned their support of SB 474.
For years RPOA has hidden their opposition behind a thinly veiled attempt to paint animal welfare organizations and issues as extremist. While they publish red meat pieces that focus on narrative and not fact, we have spent years crafting a bill that is right for Texans and improves the lives of Texas animals.
While we are disappointed in the veto decision and in a piece like this from RPOA, we will never stop fighting for animals and hope we can overcome the Governor’s objections in the future.
If you’d like to join our efforts to make a positive impact for Texas animals, please visit us at thln.org.
Shelby Bobosky is the executive director of the Texas Humane Legislative Network, a Texas animal law expert and adjunct law professor who teaches animal law and wildlife law at Southern Methodist University.
Jessica Hagmaier published GUEST COLUMN: Abbott’s reasons for vetoing dog legislation were clear in Latest News 2021-08-06 20:38:10 -0500
BY MARY BETH DUERLER
PUBLISHED JULY 20, 2021
The “Doggone Shame” article was dead wrong — claiming the only opposition to SB 474 was from “dog fighters and unscrupulous breeders who are making campaign donations under the table.”
Be assured that our organization is none of the above and it’s ridiculous to insinuate that Gov. Greg Abbott was “taking campaign donations under the table” for his veto. His reasons are quite clear and show that he is well aware of the radical “Animal Rights Agenda” to end all use, breeding, sales and ownership of animals for any reason, including pet ownership. A meatless and petless society. No interaction with animals, no Texas rodeo, circus, zoo, etc.
The loss of the governor’s beloved 13-year-old Border Collie “Oreo” was surely painful and we were delighted when he adopted a Golden Retriever puppy named “Pancake” to become a member of his family. Since the “Animal Rights” Movement is opposed to purposeful breeding animals for any reason, these purebred dogs would never have been born. The #AbbottHatesDogs is really a low blow.
Abbott’s reasons for his veto were clear: “Texans love their dogs, so it is no surprise that our statutes already protect them by outlawing true animal cruelty. Yet SB 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 overcriminalization.”
SB 474 is redundant as tethered dogs are already regulated locally by all major Texas cities and statewide by Texas Penal Code 42.092 Cruelty to Nonlivestock Animals which defines “Necessary food, water, care, or shelter:” as including food, water, care or shelter provided to the extent required to maintain the animal in a state of good health.
There has been a “Tethering Law” on the books for many years; deemed “unenforceable” by all municipalities immediately upon passage. Guess who wrote it? Texas Humane Legislation Network. Their bills are always multiple pages of gibberish “micro-managing and over-criminalization of animal use” as Abbott pointed out. SB 474’s Criminal Justice Impact Statement says “This bill creates a criminal offense, and increases the punishment for an existing criminal offense.” All of these extremist bills originate in California and migrate to other states.
Under the guise of animal welfare, SB 474 regulates “Outdoor and Unattended” Dogs and will have many unintentional consequences for rural and low-income dog owners. Advanced dog obedience training and participating in competitions could require leaving a dog tethered unattended for an indeterminate time, and is required by many disciplines — service dogs, drug-sniffing dogs, military dogs, medical assistance dogs, and rescue dogs.
Former HSUS president Wayne Pacelle has clearly articulated: “One generation and out. We have no problems with the extinction of domestic animals — creations of human selective breeding.” See https://tinyurl.com/544bredt for more quotes.
Every legislative session we meet and oppose these extremist groups in Austin: Humane Society of United States, their Texas partner “Texas Humane Legislation Network,” PETA, Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), ASPCA, and numerous small spin-off vegan groups. ALDF has attempted to establish “personhood” for animals in our courts for 30 years — giving animals legal rights equal to humans — and equates pet ownership by humans to “slavery.” Rhode Island passed a state law declaring pet “owners” to only be “pet guardians,” taking away the ability to love and protect our pets from all harm. Pets are legally our property, but it’s a constant battle.
Ingrid Newkirk: (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) says: “For one thing we would no longer allow breeding. People could not create different breeds. If people had companion animals in their homes, these animals would have to be refugees from the animal shelter and the streets ... But as the surplus of cats and dogs declined, eventually companion animals would be phased out and we would return to a more symbiotic relationship — enjoyment at a distance.”
“Transforming America” is not only about cow farts. It’s our pets. THLN says they will be back next session for their fifth attempt to get this onerous bill passed and will never give up. Nor will Responsible Pet Owners Alliance. Please join us.
Mary Beth Duerler is the executive director of the Responsible Pet Owners Alliance, an animal welfare organization formed to promote and preserve the human/animal bond and our historic working relationship with animals.
A New Law with a Fatal Flaw
Governor Rick Perry signed HB 1411, the “Unlawful Restraint of Dog” bill, requiring dog owners to restrain dogs with collars “constructed of nylon, leather, or similar material, specifically designed to be used for a dog” and tethers long enough to allow the dog to move about. The law didn’t affect municipalities that already had equivalent or stronger tethering ordinances. It applied only to unincorporated parts of counties not covered by city ordinances. In a state as big as Texas, that meant millions of dogs would be affected.
Moreover, the new law didn’t require dogs have drinkable water or access to shade and protective shelter, nor did it outlaw the use of chains. Worse yet, the Unlawful Restraint of Dog law had a fatal flaw: it required officers to give dog owners a 24-hour warning before taking any action.
2015 - Witnesses from the House hearing
L-R, Randy Turner, Alex Johnston, Ethel Strother, former Representative Kenneth Sheets and Troy Wilmon
2021 - Witnesses from the House hearing Shannon Sims, Stacy Sutton Kerby, Art Munoz and Jamey Cantrell.
THLN Brings Stakeholders Together to Fix the Broken Law
After the law went into effect, THLN began receiving reports from animal control and law enforcement officers about the defects in the law. THLN brought these stakeholders together, veterinarians and animal welfare experts, to fix the broken law.
In 2015, THLN took the efforts of those stakeholders to the Texas Legislature in the form of the “Humane Tethering” bill, HB 2562. The bill aimed to fix the 2007 law and included a definition for adequate shelter, required drinkable water, struck the use of chains and removed the 24-hour warning period. Though HB 2562 had bipartisan support and 42 co-sponsors, it died in the Texas House due to a legislative maneuver to prevent bills from getting a vote. Dogs not protected by municipal tethering ordinances would have to wait two more years before the Texas state law could be fixed.
THLN Returns With the Adequate Shelter and Restraint bill
Undeterred, THLN returned to the Texas Capitol in 2017 with the "Adequate Shelter & Restraint" bill, HB 1156/SB 1090. At this point, ten years had passed since the original Unlawful Restraint of Dogs law was passed, and support for reforming the law had grown. While HB 1156/SB 1090 passed the Senate with a vote of 29 to 2, it died in the House due to a politically-motivated tactic known as a point of order. A point of order asserts House rules are being broken. In this case, opponents claimed the bill’s caption was misleading for not including the word “criminal.”
Why did the bill’s caption not include the word “criminal”? Wouldn’t criminal penalties apply to violators? Yes. The “Unlawful Restraint of Dog” law already has penalties that could lead to jail time, and HB 1156 bill did not add or alter those penalties. While the move was disingenuous, it was enough to kill the bill. Once again, Texas dogs would pay the price with their lives while waiting for the next legislative session.
2017 - Witnesses from the House hearing, former Rep. Sarah Davis, Chief Jeff Honea, Deputy Alex Johnston, Jamey Cantrell, Laura Donahue, Art Munoz, and Shelby Bobosky
2019 - Various Witnesses from the House hearing
A Growing Coalition and an Extremist Lawmaker
THLN continued to conduct outreach with stakeholders on how best to fix the broken law between legislative sessions. By 2019, that coalition to fix the 2007 law included the Texas Sheriffs’ Association, the Texas Animal Control Association, the Combined Law Enforcement Agencies of Texas, the Texas Municipal Police Association, and the Dallas Police Association. They were joined by hundreds of Texas municipal agencies, shelters, rescuers, and animal care professionals.
The bill was re-filed in 2019 as SB 295/HB 940 and again sailed through the Senate with a vote of 27 to 3. It then died by way of another point of order in the House. The legislator responsible claimed the exceptions listed that allowed tethering while hunting, ranching, or even while “stepping into a Starbucks” weren’t highlighted enough in the Bill Analysis, which is the memo summarizing the bill. No wording would have satisfied the lawmaker who insisted that ensuring dogs had basic protections was “government overreach”.
With more people than ever fired up in support of the bill, THLN focused interim efforts on continuing to build a coalition of support, while also helping to enact local ordinances around humane tethering to give dogs the help they needed without delay.
Safe Outdoor Dogs Passes Both Chambers, Again Stopped by a Single Elected Official
By the 87th Texas Legislative session, one thing was certain: THLN would leave no stone unturned to pass this vital legislation, now dubbed the “Safe Outdoor Dogs Act.” Support for reforming the broken 2007 law had also grown exponentially: statewide organizations in support now included the Texas Veterinary Medical Association, the Texas Young Republicans, the Texas Municipal League, and Houston Crime Stoppers. Outreach to freshman legislators had been fruitful in explaining that the “Safe Outdoor Dogs Act”(filed as SB 474 / HB 873) wasn’t new law but instead would simply fix the current broken law. Returning legislators already knew the bill had been killed for ideological reasons and were determined to get the bill over the finish line. One lawmaker even declared, “I don’t want to get any more photos of dead dogs in my district”.
One hundred Texas lawmakers co-sponsored SB 474 not only because it was a solid fix to a broken law, but also because it was one of those rare islands of neutrality and consensus in an otherwise divided legislature. The hard work of lawmakers over four consecutive legislative sessions produced a bill that passed the House 83-32 and the Senate 28-3 with wide bipartisan support. The THLN team was ecstatic when, on May 29, 2021, two days before the end of the session, the bill was sent to the Governor for signature.
However, at 11 PM on Friday, June 18, 2021, Governor Abbott vetoed the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act. Prior to this move, the THLN team was in constant contact with the Governor’s office, and never once were told he had concerns. The Governor’s veto proclamation of SB 474 ultimately meant that the bill would fail to pass for a fourth time, at the expense of dogs across Texas.
We will never give up on the dogs that live outside permanently. We can't do this without your support. Please consider making a donation to our efforts so we will be prepared and ready for the 2023 legislative session.
Be polite and professional:
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- If you are a constituent or represent an organization, be sure to say so.
- Bring multiple copies of materials for the legislator and staff to review.
Be a credible resource:
- Study the issue so you can confidently state the facts.
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Be respectful of the legislator’s time:
- Always show up on time for appointments and meetings.
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Be a friendly, familiar face:
- Stay connected with legislators year-round, not just during the legislative session. Get to know the staff, especially the staffer who handles animal welfare issues.
- Thank legislators for animal-friendly votes and invite them to celebrations, workshops, and other events.
- Realize that everyone thinks his or her issue is the most important one being considered.
- Prioritize issues. Decide from the start if an issue is worth risking a relationship with a legislator.
- Frame animal issues as nonpartisan, common-sense issues.
- Don’t be rude or threatening in any way. Rudeness will not help your cause.
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- Don’t assume legislators are crooked. With rare exceptions, they are honest, intelligent folks.
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- Don’t blame legislators for all the things that go wrong in government.
Don’t become enemies when you disagree. Today’s adversary could be tomorrow’s ally!
Jessica Hagmaier published Commentary: Abbott's veto keeps dogs suffering in Latest News 2021-07-05 16:45:03 -0500
Originally Featured in San Antonio Express-News
Photo Credit: Billy Calzada / San Antonio Express-News
Texas dogs, and the people who love them, deserve more than lawmakers who make decisions that prioritize political posturing over animal cruelty prevention. Since 2015, dozens of stakeholder associations and countless Texans have been working to pass a bill clarifying the existing outdoor restraint statute, which is so vague that it is completely unenforceable.
The Texas Legislature meets every other year, and each session for the last six years, animal advocates, law enforcement officers and supporters have traveled to Austin to testify at hearings, write letters to their elected officials and sign petitions in support of a bill most recently known as Senate Bill 474, the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act.
Opponents of bills like the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act include dog fighters and unscrupulous breeders who have long claimed Texas has sufficient animal cruelty laws. But under current law, animal cruelty can only be prosecuted after the fact. Clarifying the existing outdoor restraint statute would allow action to be taken before a chained dog — suffering without shelter or water — dies or suffers abject cruelty.
Texas has the full gamut of extreme weather from freezing winds in the northern Panhandle to sweltering heat across the Rio Grande Valley.
In 2021, during February’s extreme winter storm, the Texas Humane Legislation Network was inundated with hundreds of calls per day from sheriffs, police chiefs and advocates trying to save dogs left to freeze outdoors without shelter. Many of those dogs ultimately suffered terrible fates because the current broken statute prevented intervention.
The outlook was brighter during the 87th Texas Legislature after finally getting this bill passed. Years of work and negotiations with legislators who had questions or concerns resulted in a carefully crafted bill that was acceptable to those representing many diverse interests across the state. And most importantly, SB 474 would effectively protect Texas dogs.
The bill passed the Senate and House, shepherded by sponsors state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. and Rep. Nicole Collier, chair of the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. It had the support of Republicans and Democrats, as well as lawmakers from rural, urban and suburban districts. After more than six years of advocacy, outside dogs would have the basic protections they deserved.
After all of that, Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed the bill. All the elements he cited as “micromanagement” were actually already part of the current statute or carefully negotiated compromises that addressed concerns from lawmakers in both parties to strike the right balance for our state.
The governor was right about this: Texans do love their dogs. That’s why thousands of them supported the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act. And it is why front-line animal rescuers, prosecutors and law enforcement officers spoke out repeatedly about the need for this bill: to allow them to take action to save dogs before the dog dies a preventable death — before the situation becomes an animal cruelty case instead of an animal rescue.
Ultimately, Abbott will have to be a part of the solution, and it is our hope he will reconsider his position when a future version of this bill is on his desk.
Steve Hurst serves as board president of the Texas Humane Legislation Network.
If you're interested in receiving updates about the bills THLN are lobbying, you can sign-up for their Action Alerts at thln.org/join.
Jessica Hagmaier canceled rsvp for Common Legal Pitfalls That Rescue Groups Can Avoid 2021-08-18 17:44:14 -0500
Animal rescue is a noble cause well worth the investment rescuers make. Learn how to keep your rescue focused on that mission by avoiding the most common legal "pitfalls" that cost money and damage an organization's brand.
While there are no national or Texas State laws specifically regulating rescues, other state laws and municipal ordinances do apply to rescue groups. Randy Turner will present what every rescuer needs to know about ownership issues, avoiding litigation, complying with laws regarding non-profit organizations and generally staying out of legal hot water.
Check out the on-demand webinar by RSVPing now.WHENJune 01, 2027 at 5:00pm
Passionate fundraiser, Christina Muller, has created and published a vegan cookbook with 100% of proceeds benefitting THLN. This collection of delicious recipes makes a great gift. Purchase your copy today!
Julie Arendt makes durable, stretchy, washable dog toys from upcycled t-shirts. For every dog toy purchased, she will donate $1 to Texas Humane Legislation Network. To buy a dog toy, click on the button below:
- Choose the desired size and quantities.
- On the checkout page, add https://www.thln.org in the notes section.
- Purchase dog toy(s) through her Etsy Store here.
Need to book a hotel for vacation? Winspire has some fantastic hotel deals at up to 50% of retail value, and they will donate 10% of the value of your booking back to us. Visit www.Winspireme.com/Giveback to check out their deals and make a reservation. P lease be sure to mention 'Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN)' when booking so we receive the 10% donation. If you shop at Safeway, Albertsons, Randalls or Tom Thumb, they will donate 1% of your grocery bill back to the Texas Humane Legislation Network. You will need to use their reward card in order to do this, but the rest is simple! To set it up, simply go to the Customer Service Desk in your local grocery store and ask to register for their Good Neighbor Program, making sure to specify Texas Humane Legislation Network as the recipient. Every time you swipe your Rewards card at check-out, 1% of your total bill will be donated to us!
Do your regular online shopping through igive.com and they will send us a percentage of the value of your order (avg. 3%). Choose from over 2,100 online retailers such as PetCo, The Animal Rescue Site Store, Macys, Walgreens, etc. Just go to igive.com and register as a user, or log in if already a user, and then select Texas Humane Legislation Network as your charity!
An excellent way for you to support Texas Humane Legislation Network's mission is to leave us a bequest in your will, living trust, or with a codicil. One significant benefit of making a gift by bequest is that it allows you to continue to use the property you will leave to charity during your life. Another benefit is that you can leave a lasting legacy to advocate for animal welfare legislation for years to come.
A donor-advised fund is a giving program that provides you favorable tax benefits while supporting our mission. Ask your financial advisor to designate a gift to Texas Humane Legislation Network. And please let us know when you do, so we can say thank you! If you have questions or to notify THLN of your DAF gift, please contact us at [email protected]
By speaking up for all Texas animals, you are helping us create legislation that protects animals from chains, inadequate shelter, puppy mills and other heart wrenching situations. Won't you be the voice for all the animals? Help us continue to legislate to change their fate by making a one-time gift now or fight year round for them by making a monthly contribution.
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Jessica Hagmaier published Webinar Update on New Laws and Service & Emotional Support Animals in FREE Webinars 2021-03-03 11:44:26 -0600
Animal Law Expert and Animal Lawyer Randy Turner gives an update on changes to laws and service animals and emotional support animals.
Under Texas law and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), people with disabilities may bring their service animals to all public accommodations, such as government buildings, hotels, restaurants, stadiums, and stores. These laws also require those who operate transportation services to allow service animals. But recent trends show confusion with emotional support animals and the varying definitions.
When you RSVP, you will automatically land on a page with the webinar.WHENJune 01, 2027 at 6:00pm
Jessica Hagmaier published Chained and Cold: North Texas Animal Advocate Speaking Out About Dogs Left Outside in Latest News 2021-02-26 00:22:59 -0600
TEXAS – Across the state, reports of dogs and other animals dying after being left outside in this week's extreme weather are rising.
In Houston, one man was arrested this week after leaving eight dogs outside in freezing temperatures. Those not facing formal charges are being blasted on social media by neighbors for leaving their animals neglected and unsheltered as temperatures stay below freezing.
For animal activist Shelby Bobosky, the pictures being posted on Facebook of dogs suffering outside in the snow are a grim reminder that work needs to be done.
She’s the executive director of Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN) – the only Texas-based nonprofit organization focused on addressing unjust state animal welfare laws. Bobosky says she and her small staff are working to stop animal cruelty and abuse before it starts.
The organization recently celebrated helping save the state’s Licensed Breeder Program after what Bobosky calls an “intense grassroots and lobby outreach” to maintain the program which ensures puppy mills won’t be able to legally operate across Texas.
This week she and her staff of three employees have received an influx of people in communities across the state notifying THLN of animals being neglected in the snow.
“Our hotline has basically been shut down by the hundreds of calls,” she said. “I currently have 80 voicemails and hundreds of texts because people are so concerned about these dogs that have no shelter right now, especially the first couple days.”
Also busy with calls this week is Dallas Animal Services. General manager Jordan Craig says her staff’s workload has more than doubled over the last week. They're getting a large amount of high-priority, weather-related calls.
“We’ve seen a 900% increase of weather calls,” said Craig.
Many of those calls have reported animals in critical conditions. She says her staff has been getting to as many calls as possible with icy road conditions slowing down their operations.
“It just kind of hits you mentally,” said Bobosky with tear-filled eyes. “We need to use all these pictures we’re seeing and share them with our legislators and say this is what's happened in your district, you really need to support this bill.”
That bill she’s talking about is the Safe Outdoor Dogs Bill. she hopes if passed it would make the state a more humane, especially when freezing temperatures threaten lives.
“The current statewide tethering law is unenforceable and not a single ticket has been issued under it since it passed in 2007,” she said. “The Safe Outdoor Dogs Bill will effectuate change for thousands of animals, especially those that we have seen over the last couple of days. These dogs that live outside.”
Bobosky hopes when people see dogs suffering outside in these freezing temperatures they’ll speak up and advocate for the voiceless.
“Your pets are your family, and people care,” she said. “When they see that visual of a dog outside on a chain, with no shelter and it's eight degrees – they're going to make calls and they're going to do something.”
Craig encourages those who see pets outside without access to adequate shelter or fresh (not frozen) water when the actual or perceived temperature is below 32 degrees to call 3-1-1 to report it or make a service request online through the OurDallas app.
Bobosky says animal neglect isn’t always a case of intentional malice, but rather a lack of understanding that dogs and other animals like humans can’t survive being outside during these colder temperatures. She says If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pet.
THLN’s currently focusing on supporting those who call about freezing dogs by providing the resources they need to help law enforcement officers take action before it's too late for unsheltered dogs.
“If you see a dog outside without shelter for extended periods of time, please document everything and report to your local law enforcement and animal control,” said Bobosky.
She says when the immediate danger has passed, THLN will resume its efforts to pass #HB873 and #SB474 during this legislative session, “Because those bills, which require adequate shelter for outdoor dogs, will save lives during the next period of extreme weather.”
If you're interested in receiving updates about the bills THLN are lobbying, you can sign-up for their Action Alerts at thln.org/join.
Jessica Hagmaier published As Temperatures Drop, THLN Underscores the Passage of Safe Outdoor Dogs Legislation to Prevent Unnecessary Cruelty and Death in Latest News 2021-02-11 19:01:14 -0600
As Temperatures Drop, THLN Underscores the Passage of Safe Outdoor Dogs Legislation to Prevent Unnecessary Cruelty and Death
Just this week, a dog was found frozen to death near Lubbock
Austin, Texas – On February 10, Floydada Animal Services reported that a dog was found frozen to death near Lubbock from being left outside in freezing temperatures. As the Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN) works to pass Safe Outdoor Dogs legislation and establish a better standard of care for dogs left outdoors, the organization urges Texans to immediately report to local authorities all dogs without shelter on these bitter-cold nights.
"Our hotline has been swamped with calls as the temperatures have dropped," said Shelby Bobosky, Executive Director of THLN. "We have received many reports of freezing and dying dogs throughout the state and especially in West Texas."
SB 474 by Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. and HB 873 by Representative Nicole Collier include key elements to protect dogs from extreme outdoor temperatures that could have prevented that unnecessary death and prevent more in the coming days. The legislation would establish basic standards of outdoor shelter and care, and provide much-needed clarification to existing law for the safety of animals and their surrounding communities.
"As seen in this week's tragedy, it is not enough to provide temporary fixes like free dog houses. We must change the law to require adequate shelter," said Bobosky. "The Safe Outdoor Dogs legislation ensures animals are not subject to extreme conditions, without infringing upon the freedom of Texas dog owners."
Along with preventing exposure to extreme temperature, the legislation also ensures dogs have access to drinking water and can move around without being trapped in standing water or mud. The legislation strikes the 24-hour waiting period in the current statute so that law enforcement can address critical situations immediately, instead of only after tragedy has struck.
To learn more or to schedule an interview about safe outdoor dog legislation, contact Cara Gustafson at 561-797-8267 or [email protected].
Jessica Hagmaier published Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. Files THLN’s Top Legislative Priority in the Texas Senate in Latest News 2021-01-29 17:54:19 -0600
”Safe Outdoor Dogs” legislation will improve public safety and ensure dogs have basic standards while restrained outside.
Austin, Texas – Today, Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. filed SB 474, Texas Humane Legislation Network’s (THLN) top priority legislative item in the Texas Senate, to ensure dogs are properly restrained outdoors and to prevent them from becoming a public safety hazard for unsuspecting people. Representative Nicole Collier is the House author of the companion bill, HB 873. The legislation would establish basic standards of outdoor shelter and care and provide much-needed clarification to the existing law to better promote the safety of surrounding communities.
Dogs that are inhumanely restrained become desperate and aggressive, causing them to lash out at people, especially unsuspecting children who do not understand the signs of an animal in extreme distress. Over the past couple of years, Texas has seen dozens of attacks by dogs inhumanely restrained outdoors, with some even being fatal.
“THLN has and always will advocate for commonsense animal welfare legislation. However, SB 474 is truly about public safety,” said Shelby Bobosky, Executive Director of THLN. “We must ensure dogs kept outside are safe – safe for them and safe for us.”
SB 474 key clarifications include protecting dogs from extreme outdoor temperatures and preventing the use of overly heavy, cruel chain restraints. The bill also ensures dogs have access to drinking water and can move around without being trapped in standing water or mud. Finally, the bill strikes the 24-hour waiting period to allow law enforcement to address critical situations immediately, instead of only after tragedy has struck.
"Today I am proud to file SB 474. As we know, poor living conditions of animals outside are a safety risk not only for the animals but for the communities in which they live," said bill author Senator Lucio Jr. "I am looking forward to working with Representative Collier and my colleagues to better establish this basic standard of care to protect the lives of our outdoor dogs and the health and safety of our communities."
“We are grateful for Senator Lucio Jr. for filing this bill and are confident that the legislation will pass in 2021 to better protect Texas dogs outdoors and Texas communities,” concluded Bobosky.
Jessica Hagmaier published Texas must give law enforcement better ways to deal with dangerous chained dogs in Latest News 2021-01-28 09:31:06 -0600
Originally published in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
By Alexandra Johnston
We all know someone who has been bitten by a dog. Such incidents affect hundreds, if not thousands of Texans each year, but it is a largely untold story in our communities that dogs restrained outside by their owners are actually more dangerous than roaming packs of dogs.
How we restrain and shelter dogs outside can actually cause them to become more aggressive and more likely to lash out at an unsuspecting person. A dog unlawfully and inhumanely kept on a chain for hours, days or even years without adequate access to shade or shelter from extreme Texas weather is unable to retreat from perceived or real threats. They can develop severe behavior problems and act out aggressively toward other animals, humans and especially children when approached.
Although state policymakers have established basic standards for dogs outside, it is clear that the law is not working as intended to protect Texas communities.
As a former member of law enforcement who dealt specifically with animal cases, I often saw dogs in distress, restrained by unbelievably heavy chains that sometimes outweighed the animal. But we could not intervene because current law mandates a warning period to allow the owner to fix the situation without penalty. If we came back the next day and saw the same situation, we had to issue another warning.
To my knowledge, no one in Texas has ever been cited for the unlawful and inhumane restraint of a dog outside because of this ridiculous warning clause, which is unlike anything else in Texas law. If these animals are going to live among us, we must clarify this law to keep our loved ones, neighborhoods, and animals safe.
In recent years, our state has seen many attacks by dogs restrained in this manner, with a consistent record of severe injury or even death. In 2018, a 4-year-old boy was playing in his backyard in Bexar County and was mauled by his family’s chained dog. Although a family member in the home quickly saw the attack happening, the boy had already died.
This year in Victoria, a 7-year-old boy was playing in his backyard and approached a neighbor’s chained dog. The dog attacked and bit the boy’s face, causing injuries that were not life-threatening but required surgery.
This is happening in every corner of Texas, but we can prevent it if law enforcement is able to intervene when appropriate. This is a community safety issue.
Law enforcement’s duty is to uphold public safety. Our role is built on the concept of de-escalating situations to best protect residents and their property. However, the current law designed to address the safe keeping of dogs among us is unnecessarily keeping us from performing that duty.
Instead of empowering law enforcement to remove animals from dangerous situations or cite owners for poor standards of care, officers must wait until after an attack or tragedy has occurred to take action. Waiting until tragedy, death, or destruction has occurred is wholly unacceptable.
The remedy is simple. First, legislators must clearly define lawful and humane restraint and basic shelter standards outside so owners can easily comply. Second, and most important, any change must remove the never-ending cycle of warnings to allow law enforcement to address dangerous situations when necessary to prevent human tragedy.
Understandably, some Texans worry that such legislation could affect how they care for their dogs. However, this legislation is not meant to stop dogs from being kept outside at all or curb the personal liberties of Texas animal owners. It will simply ensure that dogs being kept outside are treated in a manner that does not create a danger to the unsuspecting public around them.
We are not asking legislators to create a new law. We simply ask that they fix one they’ve already acknowledged as necessary. Texas dogs deserve a fair standard of care, and most importantly, Texas families deserve to be safe in their communities.