Safe Outdoor Dogs Act Headed to Governor

Safe Outdoor Dogs Act Headed to Governor’s Desk at the Close of the Third Special Session
The act clarifies previous law and establishes basic standards of shelter and care for unattended dogs restrained outdoors.

October 19, 2021

Austin, Texas – Late last night, SB 5, the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, passed out of both chambers and is now heading to the Governor’s desk. A top legislative priority for the Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN), the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act establishes basic standards of shelter and care for dogs left outdoors and clarifies existing law to promote the safety of animals and the people around them.

After the Safe Outdoor Dogs bill passed both chambers and was subsequently vetoed by the Governor during the regular legislative session earlier this year, THLN worked with the Governor’s office to ensure all of the items in his veto proclamation were addressed. The current bill is similar to the one filed during the regular session and still maintains its purpose of protecting dogs and the people around them from inhumane tethering.

"The passage of the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act is a critical step toward protecting restrained dogs and improving public safety, while still respecting the freedoms of Texas dog owners," said Stacy Sutton Kerby, Director of Government Relations for THLN. "We are thrilled and so thankful to our bill authors Representative Jared Patterson and Senator Lucio Jr. for their tireless efforts to get this bill to the finish line. We are hopeful that Governor Abbott signs it into law.”

The Safe Outdoor Dogs Act will ensure dogs have access to drinkable water and can move around without being trapped in standing water or any other dangerous substance. Along with preventing exposure to extreme weather, the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act removed the 24-hour waiting period that previously prevented animal control and law enforcement officers from taking immediate action. Going forward, officers will be able to assist tethered dogs in distress as soon as they arrive on the scene. 

The law also includes key exemptions for dogs restrained in public places like parks and campgrounds, those used for farming, field trials, and hunting tasks, dogs restrained via a trolley system, and those temporarily unattended in an open-air truck bed. 

"This was a tough legislative session for everyone. We are especially grateful for the effort legislators and supporters made to get this law passed," finished Kerby.  

To learn more or schedule an interview about the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, contact Cara Gustafson at (561) 797-8267 or [email protected] 

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  • Joy Ruth
    Has governor signed this bill into law yet? When will it go into effect?
  • Karen Rankin