‘They do not have a voice’: New law that protects outside dogs in animal cruelty situations to go into effect Tuesday

Starting Tuesday, “outside dogs” in Houston will hopefully be a little healthier and happier, thanks to a new law that will protect them.

HOUSTON – Starting Tuesday, “outside dogs” in Houston will hopefully be a little healthier and happier, thanks to a new law that will protect them.

The Safe Outdoor Dogs Act bans the use of chain-tethers and allows law enforcement officers to act more quickly in an animal cruelty situation.

After a failed attempt earlier this year to pass a law protecting outside dogs in Texas, a new version has been signed. Gov. Abbott vetoed a previous bi-partisan bill, Senate Bill 474, saying it micro-managed and over-criminalized pet owners. The governor recently signed Senate Bill 5, which, according to animal advocates in Houston, will prompt much-needed change.

RELATED: 23 new Texas laws went into effect this year. Here’s what you need to know.

Houston PetSet is an organization dedicated to ending homelessness and the suffering of companion animals.

“Homer was tied up for years at the end of a chain. He did not have a collar fit him properly, so the collar left on him, he grew into, so he had an embedded collar,” Tama Lundquist, the co-president of Houston PetSet said.

During those years, Homer was forced to live outside on the hard ground.

“You can tell by the hard calluses on his body. He loves children, people, cats other dogs, but those years being on the end of the chain when the law did not protect him, took a toll on Homer,” Lundquist said.

After surviving years of abuse and neglect, Homer is still able to love and he’s ready to be adopted.

“When you can’t educate, you have to legislate,” said Lundquist. “Other cities have ordinances that protect animals. In the state of Texas, Houston did not have the ordinance to protect the animals so we really needed the state law to be passed.”

Lundquist, along with other animal advocacy groups and organizations throughout Texas, has been working to pass the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act.

“We need to protect the animals. They do not have a voice,” said Lundquist.

This law bans chain-tethers and weights. It states the collar or harness must fit the dog properly, and if the dog is restrained, it must be able to sit, stand and move around safely and comfortably. The law defines adequate shelter that offers protection for the dog from inclement weather and ensures they access to clean drinkable water and food.

Lundquist explained, “Prior to this law in place, (a) shelter could have been a cardboard box on side the house, tree, broken down car.”

The new law also strikes the 24-hour waiting period for law enforcement to intervene in situations of abuse and neglect.

The law goes into effect on Tuesday. First offense, violators will be hit with a Class C misdemeanor and could pay up to $500.

You can also anonymously submit photos and video if you see any activity that should be reported at http://www.927paws.org.

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