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Houston SPCA News

What you need to know about the new Texas animal cruelty law

Belgian Malinois standing next to chain

HOUSTON (January 14, 2022) – The new anti-cruelty law, based on the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, will go into effect on January 18. This will give local authorities like the Houston SPCA and Harris County Precinct 1 more tools in the fight against animal cruelty in the state of Texas.

One critical element of the new law removes the mandatory 24-hour warning period for pet owners after their dog is found living in inhumane conditions. “This key element will now give us the discretion to assess critical situations and take swift action if necessary,” said Adam Reynolds, Chief Animal Cruelty Investigator with the Houston SPCA. “Lifting this waiting period will no doubt help us save countless more lives,” added Reynolds.

Additionally, the new law also prohibits the use of heavy chain restraints, and requires access to drinking water and protection from extreme temperatures. It also requires adequate shelter. The law defines this as a structure that allows the dog to stand, turn around, and lie down in a normal position. Also, inclement weather is clarified as rain, hail, sleet, snow, high winds as well as extreme high or low temperatures. A tether must be at least 10 feet long or five times the length of the dog. Their collar or harness should fit properly and not cause harm.

Large chain with padlocks
This 60-lb chain was used to hold a dog half that weight.

When should I submit a cruelty report?

With all of the new details of the law, it can sometimes be a bit difficult to know when a cruelty report is warranted. Dogs are still allowed to be tethered outdoors, as long as they have adequate shelter, food, and water and if the tether is of appropriate material and length.

Save and use the following graphic as a tool to know when it is important to report an outdoor pet or how to tell if all of their needs are being met under the law.

The Houston SPCA relies on the community to be the eyes and ears for all animals who are abused and neglected. You can save a life by reporting animal cruelty by calling 713-869-SPCA or sharing online at www.houstonspca.org/report.

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