AUSTIN, Texas - Advocates for animal safety are celebrating new legislation that goes into effect this week. "We worked on this for six years," said Stacy Sutton Kerby, director of government relations at the Texas Humane Legislation Network.
One prior version of the bill - SB 474 - was passed by lawmakers but then vetoed by Governor Abbott. The latest version - SB 5 or the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act - was signed into law in October during the third special session.
"Austin Pets Alive! is grateful to the Texas Humane Legislation Network for the all the work they did to ensure passage of the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act," said Suzie Chase, spokesperson for the local animal shelter.
Under the new law, for safety reasons, dog owners may no longer use chain restraints on outdoor dogs, though there are some restraints that are still allowed - like a cable tie-out.
The bill also removes the 24-hour waiting period so that immediate action can be taken by law enforcement or animal control if a dog is seen in distress. "That meant the difference between life or death for a lot of dogs in Texas," said Kerby.
Dogs left outside must also have access to adequate shelter and drinking water.
"Successful implementation from our point of view is not a matter of under-resourced communities getting lots of citations," said Kerby. "At the end of the day, what we really want is to improve that dog’s quality of life."
There are local resources available for dog owners that have questions or need financial assistance to ensure their dog is properly cared for.
For those in Bastrop and Travis Counties, Dejando Huella ATX donates dog houses and specializes in outreach to Spanish-speaking dog owners.
For those in Williamson County, the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter will also donate dog houses and other items to under-resourced dog owners.
For more information and clarification on what is allowed under the new legislation, click here.