Starting Jan. 18, dogs in Texas can no longer be tethered outdoors without certain requirements being met for their protection. In the last Texas Legislative session, lawmakers passed Senate Bill 5, which essentially is a new leash law for all of Texas.
Texas Senate Bill 5 states that any person who owns, has custody or control of a dog will be held responsible for violations.
The new law states that a dog that is kept outside must have:
- Adequate shelter: Defined as providing the dog protection from inclement weather, including rain, hail, sleet, snow, high winds, extreme low temperatures, or extreme high temperatures, and be within the dimensions that allow the dog, while in the shelter, to stand erect, sit, turn around, and line down in a normal position
- An area that allows the dog to avoid standing water and exposure to excessive animal waste.
- Shade from direct sunlight
- Potable (safe drinking) water
- A properly fitted collar/harness that does not include choke collars. No collars that impede the dog’s normal breathing or swallowing, and no collars that cause pain or injury to the dog may be used.
Additionally, the dog may not be restrained by a chain or have weights attached to it, and the length of the restraint must be at least five times the length of the dog (measured from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail) or 10 feet, whichever is longer.
According to Liberty County Sheriff Bobby Rader, the penalty for those who violate this law will be a Class C Misdemeanor for the first offense with a fine up to $500. If there is a previous conviction, the charge will be a Class B Misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $1,000. Please note that this penalty will be per restrained dog.
There are exceptions provided in the new law. Restraints are allowed in these situations:
- A public camping or recreational area in compliance with the requirements of the public camping or recreational area
- While the dog and owner are engaged in, or actively train for, an activity conducted under a valid license issued by the state provided the activity is associated with the use or presence of a dog
- While the dog and owner are engaged in conduct directly related to the business of shepherding or herding cattle or livestock
- While the owner and dog engage in conduct directly related to the business of cultivating agricultural products
- While the owner and dog are engaged in actively training for or hunting
- When a dog is taken by the owner, or another person with the owner’s permission, from the owner’s residence or property and restrained no longer than the time necessary for the owner to engage in an activity that requires the dog to be temporarily restrained.
Dogs may be left unattended in an open-air truck bed only for the time reasonably necessary for the owner to complete a temporary task.
The new law does not apply to dogs on a trolley system that allows them to move along a running line nor does it apply to leashed dogs walking with their owners.
Sheriff Rader said his office will work with citizens to make sure that they understand this new law.
“The penalty for not complying will get your attention. It would be better to spend money to get a proper restraint and adequate shelter before paying the $500 fine and then having those expenses,” Rader said.
To report a violation after the law goes into effect on Jan. 18, please contact the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office by calling 936-336-4500, ext. 1.
Written by Bluebonnet News