Animal activists across the United States are applauding a new law put in place in Texas to increase the welfare of dogs kept tethered outside. The Safe Outdoor Dog Act (SODA) has been passed in order to protect outdoor dogs left to fend for themselves in all weather conditions, in the hopes of reducing the number of canine fatalities and the amount of cruelty seen with unattended, tethered dogs.
The new law has established the minimum requirements for any dogs left restrained outside for long periods of time. This first and foremost rule is the complete prohibition of chains for a canine tether. This will reduce the amount of chafing a dog can experience from a tether as well as relieve weight from their necks.
The following rules are included within the new dog tethering standards provided by this law:
- Dogs cannot be tethered by chains of any kind or weighted tethers – properly secured cable tie-outs can be used so long as they are not so long as to enable a dog to jump over a garden fence.
- Collars that restrict the dog’s breathing or cause the dog pain are strictly prohibited.
- Dogs cannot be tethered with a tether shorter than five times the dog’s body length, or shorter than 10 feet in length.
- Dogs must have access to adequate shelter that can provide plenty of protection from standing water and extreme weather conditions.
- Dogs must have easy access to safe, drinkable water at all times (which was not legally required prior to SODA).
- The 24-hour waiting period preventing the intervention of law enforcement officers or Animal Control officers has been completely removed, allowing officers to take immediate action when required.
- All restraints must be properly secured to the collar.
The Safe Outdoor Dog Act means dogs no longer have to wait for a day after warnings are given to their abusers to be rescued. This will prevent inadequate or cruel dog owners from simply being able to mask their abuse between law enforcement visits.
Cierra Shipley, a Waco Police spokesperson told the Waco Tribune-Herold that both Animal Control and the Waco Police Department always work together to properly assess any situation regarding tethered animals in order to understand the severity of the situation. Discretion with the dog owners is still required by officers, however, they are now able to act swiftly in the protection of the dog affected.
Violation of this new law has the potential to result in a fine of up to $500. Furthermore, any subsequent offenses by the same person can lead up to 180 days imprisonment according to Shipley. Supporters of SODA praise this progression in animal cruelty laws, and feel that these new standards impressed upon outdoor dog owners should be able to prevent cruelty cases from occurring at all.
Any Wavo citizens worried about the immediate well-being of a dog should immediately contact Animal Control officers using the number 254-750-1765. Animal cruelty should not be reported to 911, this is a line reserved for severe emergencies only. Should a Waco citizen wish to report a less urgent case, they are encouraged to speak with the Waco Police Department at 254-750-1765.
Animal rights groups such as SPCA in Texas, have spoken regarding the new law and expressed an intention to provide pet owners with adequate resources to enable them to fully understand the new law and ensure they are compliant with all requirements.