Texas Anti-Animal Abuse Law Vetoed

1 minute read

Texas governor Greg Abbott has just vetoed 20 bills, including one bipartisan bill that would have banned the use of heavy chains to tether dogs outside.

Senate Bill 474, called the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, also required animal shelters to scan lost dogs for microchips, provided tax breaks to pet rescue facilities, and removed a requirement that gave dog-owners 24 hours to fix issues before law enforcement could intervene. The notice requirement, supporters said, led to many canine deaths during the Texas winter storms, where pets often perished before the 24 hours passed.

The bill was passed 28-3 in the Senate, and 83-32 in the House.

In his veto statement, Abbott explained:

Texans love their dogs, so it is no surprise that our statutes already protect them by outlawing true animal cruelty. Yet Senate Bill 474 would compel every dog owner, on pain of criminal penalties, to monitor things like 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, as measured from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail. Texas is no place for this kind of micro-managing and over-criminalization.

Abbott’s specific objections referred to parts of the bill that required an appropriately sized collar that “does not choke the dog or impede the dog’s normal breathing”; restricted dog-owners from leaving a dog unattended in an open-air truck bed for a time longer than what is “necessary for the owner to complete a temporary task”; and required dogs left outside and unattended to be on tethers that are longer than 5 times their length, and do not “cause pain or injury”.

Neither choking a dog nor leaving a dog unattended and in pain on a short chain were “true” animal cruelty, according to Abbott’s veto statement.

Supporters have been critical to Abbott’s claims of micromanagement, explaining that each of the provisions were the result of 6 years of negotiations and compromises with lawmakers from urban, suburban, and rural areas. The result was the support of 76% of Texas legislators.