Whether the weather is freezing cold or sweltering hot, seeing a dog chained up in a yard suffering from the elements is ever an easy sight to see. Back in October, Texas Governor Greg Abbott finally decided to sign State Bill 474, or the Safe Outdoors Act. That bill went into effect today, January 18th, which makes "unlawful restraint of a dog" a crime. That means a dog must have:

  • Adequate shelter- clean sturdy structure to protect the dog from the weather and other elements. The shelter must also be big enough for the animal to stand up, turn around, and lie down in.
  • Properly-fitted collar or harness
  • Proper restraint- no chain or weights attached, also with adequate shelter and away from standing water, shade from sunlight, and the dog must have drinking water available. The restraint used also has to be five times the length of the dog.

If someone is found to be in violation of this law it is a Class C misdemeanor, or a Class B if it is a repeat offense. A Class C misdemeanor is punishable by fines up to $500 and a Class B can be up to a $2,000 fine and up to 180 days in jail.

There are some exemptions, like when someone is camping or has the dog in the bed of their truck but you can read all the exemptions on the Texas Government website.

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If you find someone in violation of this law, they are committing a crime and you can report them to the appropriate law enforcement authority. That includes calling 311, the El Paso Police Department non-emergency line at (915) 832-4400, or El Paso Animal Services at (915) 212-PAWS. You can also visit the El Paso Animal Services website for more information.

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