Safe Outdoor Dog Act

On October 25, 2021 the Texas Safe Outdoor Dogs Act (PDF) was signed into law.

The Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, which went into effect January 18, 2022, was passed with the intention of:

  • Defining adequate shelter to protect dogs from extreme temperatures, inclement weather, and standing water. Previously, there was no definition for shelter, thus tethered dogs routinely perished from exposure.
  • Requiring access to drinkable water. Before the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, state law did not include this vital requirement.
  • Requiring safe restraints. The Safe Outdoor Dogs Act strikes the use of chains. Other means of restraint, such as cable tie-outs, may be used so long as they are correctly attached to a collar or harness designed to restrain a dog.

Arguably the most significant change wrought by the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act is removing the 24-hour warning period that allowed bad actors to flout the law. Officers can now take immediate action for tethered dogs in distress.

Exceptions to the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act

The Safe Outdoor Dogs Act does not prevent owners from tethering dogs. The law requires that unattended dogs are tethered in a way that keeps them and the people around them safe, and there are several exceptions to the law. The Safe Outdoor Dogs Act 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
  • In an open-air truck bed while the owner completes a temporary task

Restraining Dogs Without Using Chains

The American Veterinary Medical Association and the Center for Disease Control agree that chaining dogs is an inappropriate method of restraint. Not only do chains tangle, rust, and break, but they often cause pain and injury.

Conversely, cable tie-outs and trolley systems are designed to restrain dogs, so they are lightweight, strong, and flexible. On average, they cost between $15 to $30 and are easy to find in stores and online.