In October 2021, the Governor of Texas Greg Abbot signed a bill to ban dog owners who chain up their companion animals outside. The bill, which passed during the Legislature’s third special session of 2021, will take effect on 18th January 2022.
Under Senate Bill 5 — otherwise known as the “Safe Outdoor Dogs Bill” — dog guardians will not be allowed to leave a dog outside and unattended while restrained unless they give the dog access to adequate shelter, shade from direct sunlight, drinkable water, and proper protection from inclement weather. Those breaking this law could be charged with a Class C misdemeanour, punishable by a fine of up to $500, or a Class B misdemeanour for repeated offenders. The bill also eliminates a 24-hour waiting period for law enforcers to intervene if they come across an animal in inhumane conditions.
Abbott previously vetoed a similar version of the bill in June, but due to public pressure, he reconsidered. Jamey Cantrell, president of the Texas Animal Control Association, told The Texas Tribune: “If there was no outcry … it would still be something that we’d be planning on working on next legislative session.”
The bill was authored by State senator Eddie Lucio Jr. of Brownsville, who said that the changes to the previous bill were “minor”. These include what is defined as inclement weather and material for a dog’s collar. A provision defining adequate shelter was also added.
Stacy Sutton Kerby, director of government relations for The Texas Humane Legislative Network, one of the bill’s largest proponents for years, said: “Every season, whether it’s super-hot Texas summers or whether it’s hurricane season or in the northern part of the state where it can regularly get to freezing temperatures, we get reports of dogs that have died outside at the ends of their chains. So we know that this is going to affect animals in a positive way going forward.”
It’s not a blanket ban, though. Here are some exceptions to the prohibition (which were already present in the previous version): public camping or recreational areas, hunting activities, shepherding farm animals, cultivating agricultural products, and dogs left unattended in an open-air truck bed.