The Act clarifies previous law and establishes basic standards of shelter and care for unattended dogs restrained outdoors.

Recently, the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act went into effect in Texas. After being vetoed last summer and subsequently passed during the third special session in the fall, the law takes a huge step forward in protecting everyone from the dangers of inhumane tethering. The law 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 without increasing criminal penalties.

“We have fought for many years to pass this law and are absolutely thrilled about the difference it is going to make in the lives of dogs as well as Texas residents,” said Stacy Sutton Kerby, director of government relations for Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN). “We are so thankful to our bill authors Sen. Lucio and Rep. Patterson, as well as Chair Nicole Collier, who authored the bill in the regular session. Without their dedication and leadership, we would not have been able to get this law passed,” finished Kerby.

The bipartisan law provides clarity for dog owners on how to properly restrain their dog, empowers law enforcement to intervene immediately in dangerous situations, and provides measures to protect dogs from inclement weather, lack of shelter and heavy chains.

“Many cities and counties in Texas are preparing literature to help with compliance with the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act,” said Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., who authored the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act in the Senate. “These efforts will aid in the observance of the law and remind the communities of our dogs’ basic needs. This winter, it is crucial for us to remember that as cold fronts come through, bring your dog inside from the dangerously cold temperatures and/or snow. If we have a repeat of last year’s freeze, this law will help save the lives of many outdoor dogs,” finished Sen. Lucio.

“An effort spanning several legislative sessions, the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act finally passed the Legislature in the third called special session of 2021,” said Rep. Jared Patterson, who authored the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act in the House. Jan. 18 marks the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act effective date. This law repeals and replaces a section of code that was ineffective, provides law enforcement with the authority to educate dog owners regarding proper tethering, and most importantly, will save the lives of countless dogs in the future. I will always be grateful to have been part of this effort, and to have fostered this bill in its final push through the Texas House,” finished Rep. Patterson.
“For too long, animal control officers have only been able to step in after tragedy has occurred,” said Jamey Cantrell, past president of the Texas Animal Control Association, the oldest and largest state animal control organization in the country. “Now with the implementation of the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, animal control officers will be able to keep dogs and the communities they reside in much safer by intervening at the first signs of distress. Our members will be educating local dog owners about how to get in compliance and connecting them with local resources to do just that,” finished Cantrell. 

“THLN wants to help those in underserved communities, and we encourage everyone who wants to see the successful implementation of the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act to engage at the local level,” said Shelby Bobosky, executive director of THLN. “Whether it’s partnering with local shelters and rescue groups to fundraise and donate dog houses and cable tie-outs, teaming up with youth groups to help build dog houses, or just spreading awareness in your local communities, there is an opportunity for all Texans to ensure the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act works for everyone,” finished Bobosky.

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