Houston PetSet Friends, 

It is with a heavy heart that we write to you today to inform you that Senate Bill 474, the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, a piece of bipartisan, commonsense legislation that would have clarified the vague language that makes the current statute unenforceable, was vetoed late Friday night by Governor Greg Abbott.

As an organization, Houston PetSet did all we could to advocate for this bill. Our Co-Presidents made personal visits to the Capitol to meet with legislators on both sides of the aisle, we created educational videos, and we spoke with the media to express how this legislation would improve the lives of dogs throughout Texas.

Unfortunately, those advocating for the bill, including sheriffs, law enforcement, animal control offers and our friends at Texas Humane Legislation Network, never received any indication from the Governor, or his team, that it was unsatisfactory. Below is the governor’s statement regarding the veto:

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.

We are disheartened that Texas dogs will continue to suffer and die on the ends of chains without access to proper water, shade, or shelter. Just last week, a local animal welfare group responded to two separate cases of dogs who suffered and died from heat distress after they were left outside in the sweltering heat with no access to water, food, or shelter. One was chained to a fence, the other trapped in a kennel. Their body temperatures registered at 130+ degrees on scene.

Photo credit: Houston SPCA

Although we thought we had won this fight for basic necessities after a six-year battle, we will continue to advocate #ForTheAnimals. Until the next legislative session in 2023, Houston PetSet will turn our attention to working on local ordinances that will create a more humane life for animals in our community.

If you would like to politely express your opinion about Governor Abbott’s action, please call his office at 512-463-2000, 512-463-1800, or click here.

FOX 26 Houston: Animal Activists Shocked After Governor Vetoes Legislation