Originally Featured in People Magazine
BY ABIGAIL ADAMS
PUBLISHED OCTOBER 29, 2021
Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill on Monday after vetoing a similar version of the bill in June, which sparked public pushback
It will soon be illegal for Texas dog owners to chain up their pets outside.
On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbot signed the bill — passed during the state legislature’s third special session of the year — after vetoing a previous version this summer.
Under the new law, which goes into effect on Jan. 18, 2022, owners will be barred from tying up their dogs outside with chains or weighed-down restraints. The length of an outdoor restraint must be 10 feet long or five times the dog’s length from nose to tail.
Owners will not be allowed to leave a dog outside and unattended while restrained unless the owner gives the dog access to “adequate” shelter, shade from direct sunlight, drinkable water, and proper protection from “inclement weather.”
The new law also eliminates a rule that currently prevents law enforcement from intervening in a situation regarding a dog in illegal conditions for 24 hours.
Violators of the law will face a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500. Repeat offenders could face a Class B misdemeanor.
Abbott previously vetoed a similar version of the bill in June over the bill’s “micro-managing” language regarding 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.”
Jamey Cantrell, president of the Texas Animal Control Association, told The Texas Tribune in an article published earlier this month that public pushback likely 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 at the time. “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.”
Shelby Bobosky, executive director of the Texas Humane Legislation Network, told the Tribune that last winter’s devastating winter storm displayed 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 newly-signed law would “give a lot of dogs a new way of life” in the state.
There are some exceptions to this rule, such as public camping or recreational areas. Canines and their owners participating in hunting, shepherding livestock, and cultivating agricultural products are also exempt. Dogs may be left unattended in an open-air truck bed circumstantially as well.
Some temporary restraints will be permitted circumstantially, too, though the law does not outline how.