Reminder: Safe Outdoor Dogs Act is a new law for pet owners

Reporter: Ellie Mahan

March 9, 2022

After being signed into law on October 25, 2021, the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act went into effect Tuesday, January 18. This law is replacing a previous law related to the mistreatment of dogs.


Texas Senate Bill 5 protects dogs by stating that an owner may not leave a dog outside unattended with use of restraint without access to drinkable water and adequate shelter. The new law defines adequate shelter as a space that shades or protects dogs from extreme temperatures or standing water and allows the dog to sit, stand, turn around and lie down.


The law prohibits the use of chain restraints because The American Veterinary Medical Association and the Center for Disease Control both determined that chaining is an unsafe method of restraint. Chains can tangle, rust, break and cause pain or injury to the dog being restrained. Other types of restraint, such as cable tie-outs, are acceptable if they are attached to a collar or harness designed to restrain a dog.


Other prohibited types of restraints for dogs are restraints that have weights attached, are attached to a collar or harness not properly fitted or are shorter in length than (a) five times the length of the dog or (b) 10 feet.


The Safe Outdoor Dogs Act strikes the 24-hour waiting period. Authorities can now take immediate action to help restrained dogs in distress.


According to the Texas Human Legislation Network, there are three exceptions to the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act. The law does not apply to dogs who are: attached to a cable-tie out or trolley system, camping or using other public recreational areas, herding livestock or assisting with farming tasks, hunting or participating in field trials or in an open-air truck bed while the owner completes a temporary task.


The new state law and the previous state law both function on a “see something, say something” basis. Under this law, citizens who see or witness the mistreatment of dogs are encouraged to contact the authorities so that the owner committing the offense can be fined.


Those who do not obey the law can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor or a Class B misdemeanor if the subject was previously convicted with the same offense.


Visit thln.org for more information from the Texas Humane Legislation Network.

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