BRYAN, Texas — After years of animal rights advocates pushing for changes, Texas Senate Bill 5 is now officially operational as a law.
Signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in October 2021, the law was enacted this Tuesday, essentially barring pet owners from chaining their dogs or leaving the animals outside in storms.
“The biggest change we’re seeing with this law, number one, is the requirement of shelter – and particularly for the requirement of the type of shelter that you have to have," said Sgt. Chris Fraley, animal control supervisor with the Brazos County Sheriff’s Office. "And it means that the animal, in this case, it requires that the animal have a shelter that they can stand in, sit up in, turn around in.”
Sgt. Fraley and his colleagues will be enforcing the law, which is considered a Class M misdemeanor punishable by up to $500 in fines. But the first step for Fraley won’t necessarily be a slue of arrests; rather, it will be teaching opportunities.
“Our goal is not just to go out there and heavily enforce," he explained. "We want to [tell people] that this is what the law is, this is what our expectations are, and this is what the law requires. And then after we speak to people and don’t gain compliance, then it will be enforced.”
Animal rights advocates, such as local nonprofit leader Judy LeUnes of Wienerspiel, say that some people who neglect their dogs are not doing so intentionally, and just need to be given the right direction and tools. The new law does permit dogs to be tied with certain materials, and to be kept outside if adequate shelter from inclement weather is available.
LeUnes has worked with Brazos Valley state congress members such as Rep. John Taney, to ensure their vote and support of the bill. While she would ultimately like to see dogs untethered completely, LeUnes said this legislation is a step in the right direction, giving officers more structure in their enforcement.
“That’s why I love this bill because it’s so tightly defined about what you can use or cannot use to tether your dog or keep it in," she commented.
The bill can be read in full at the following link: