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New Texas law makes it illegal to chain up dogs outside

Violators will face a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500.

New Texas law makes it illegal to chain up dogs outside
Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images/Anton Deev

A new Texas law will make it illegal for people to tie up their dogs outside with chains or weighed-down restraints. Gov. Greg Abbot signed the bill — passed during the state legislature's third special session of the year — into law last week after vetoing a previous version this summer. According to The Texas Tribune, the law also dictates that dog collars must be made of "material specifically designed to be placed around the neck of a dog," though it does not specify exactly which materials are permitted. If at all a dog is to be restrained outside, the length of an outdoor restraint must be 10 feet long or five times the dog's length from nose to tail.


As per the law, dogs also cannot be left outside unattended while restrained unless owners give them access to drinkable water and shelter from "inclement weather," which includes "rain, hail, sleet, snow, high winds, extreme low temperatures, or extreme high temperatures." The new law, which goes into effect on January 18, 2022, eliminates a rule that currently prevents law enforcement from intervening in a situation regarding a dog in illegal conditions for 24 hours. Animal advocates have reportedly called for this legislation during several legislative sessions as the Texas Humane Legislation Network in 2015 found that not a single prosecution had been made under the law over the previous two years.


However, Abbott previously vetoed a similar version of the bill in June, stating that Texas was no place for such "micro-managing" and "over-criminalization" 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." A new version of the measure was later added to the agenda for the third legislative session that began last month. The legislation that was passed last week isn't too dissimilar from the version vetoed by Abbott except that it more clearly outlines the proper treatment of a tethered dog.


Those who are found to violate the law will face a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500, and repeat offenders could face a Class B misdemeanor. Speaking to the Tribune last month, Jamey Cantrell — president of the Texas Animal Control Association — said that the group owes the issue's return this session to the Texans and legislators who voiced their opposition to the governor's move. "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, said that last winter's devastating winter storm displayed the need for "some basic standards in place for dogs who permanently live outside. As we saw with the February storm, many dogs perished — which was totally unnecessary — because there is no definition of adequate shelter." State senator and author of the bill Eddie Lucio Jr. of Brownsville stated that only "minor" changes were made to the previous bill and that he hoped the newly-signed law would "give a lot of dogs a new way of life" in the state.


The new legislation does allow some exceptions to the rule, reports PEOPLE. Dog owners and dogs participating in public camping, visiting recreational areas, hunting, shepherding livestock, and cultivating agricultural products are exempt from the law. Dogs may also be left unattended in an open-air truck bed circumstantially, according to the law, which also allows some temporary restraints depending on the situation.

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