Governor Abbott Signs the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act into Law

Published 5:05 pm Tuesday, October 26, 2021

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

Austin, Texas – Yesterday afternoon, Governor Abbott signed the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act into law to go into effect on January 18, 2022. 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.

The Governor vetoed a previous version of the bill during the regular session but added it to the third special session agenda in September. THLN worked in coordination with the Governor’s office to address the items in the veto proclamation in the new version of the bill.

“We are thrilled to be able to get this bill across the finish line in the special session rather than having to wait for the next regular session in 2023,” said Stacy Sutton Kerby, Director of Government Relations for THLN. “It is a huge step toward protecting restrained dogs and the people around them from inhumane tethering.”

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.

“Thank you to all the supporters and advocates for helping get Senate Bill 5, the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, passed and signed by the Governor,” said Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr., who authored the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act in the Senate. “There is now a basic standard of care that must be provided to dogs tethered outdoors across the state. While cities may still pass stricter laws, this legislation will help keep dogs and the communities in which they live safe, even if there are no municipal ordinances. Dogs are more than man’s best friend, they are family. Mistreating dogs is horrible and passing legislation like this isn’t just good policy, it’s humane policy. Once again, my sincerest thanks to Governor Abbott for signing this important piece of legislation into law,” said Senator Lucio.

“I am so proud to have had the opportunity to work with Governor Abbott, Senator Lucio, pet advocates, and law enforcement to finally pass the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act,” said Representative Jared Patterson, who authored the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act in the House. “This bipartisan bill, which repeals and replaces an entire subchapter of ineffective code, provides clarity for dog owners, allows law enforcement to do their jobs, and is designed to keep our communities safe from dangerous dogs. It also provides measures to protect dogs from inclement weather, lack of shelter and heavy chains, which I am confident will save our furry family members from harmful conditions and pain in the future,” said Representative Patterson.

“We are so thankful to our bill authors Senator Lucio and Representative 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 bill passed,” finished Kerby.