Despite support from the Texas House and Senate, Governor Greg Abbott has vetoed a bill that would provide further protection for outdoor dogs.

According to a press release from the of Office of the Texas Governor, Greg Abbott has vetoed Senate Bill No. 474.

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The bill seeks to improve conditions for outdoor dogs who are left unattended by requiring owners to provide adequate shelter and proper fitting on collars or harnesses.

SB 474 also stipulates that an owner may not restrain a dog outside unattended with a restraint that is a chain, has weights attached, or is shorter than 10 feet or 5x the length of the dog.

Under the bill, offenders would receive a Class C misdemeanor, except that the offense is a Class B misdemeanor if the person has previously been convicted for the unlawful restraint of a dog.

Governor Abbott released the following veto statement:

"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."

If Governor Abbott thoroughly read SB 474, he would know that a dog left unattended in an open-air truck bed is an exception to the bill, so long that it's only for the time necessary for the owner to complete a temporary task. Obviously no wants to see a dog chained in a truck bed for hours in the heat without access to shelter and water.

The Texas Humane Legislative Network’s (THLN) Executive Director Shelby Bobosky released the following statement regarding Governor Abbott’s veto of Senate Bill 474. The bill would have provided much-needed clarification to existing law to establish basic standards of outdoor shelter and restraint for dogs.

THLN and its thousands of members across Texas are devastated by the veto of the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act. Governor Abbott says that the current Texas statute already protects dogs, but this bill – which was carried with active support from sheriffs, law enforcement and animal control offers – would have clarified the vague language that makes the statute completely unenforceable.

SB 474 contained simple fixes to protect dogs that are left outside on heavy chains with no shelter or water in a state that experiences extreme high and low temperatures. All the elements Governor Abbott cited as “micromanagement” were carefully negotiated compromises that addressed concerns from lawmakers in both parties to strike the right balance for our diverse state.

The passage of the bill in both chambers with overwhelming bipartisan support from rural, urban, and suburban members was the result of six years of tireless effort by THLN and all stakeholders who care for dogs inhumanely restrained outdoors.

The issues that this bill intended to address will not go away, and neither will we. Preventing animal cruelty while making our state a safer place is one of the few nonpartisan issues facing the legislature and animal advocates are reliable primary and general voters.”

With the extreme weather in Texas, I truly hope that owners will take the extra precautions to protect their dogs outdoors. Although, as demonstrated in the gallery below, not every dog owner has their pet's best interest at heart. I wish Abbott would have reviewed these photos before his vetoed this vital bill.

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