LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - A Texas House Bill may soon help protect dogs from extreme outdoor temperatures if they are left outside by their owners. House Bill 873 or the Safe Outdoor Dogs Bill, will make it easier for local animal control to make sure a dog has proper shelter.
KLTV spoke with the Longview Animal Services Director who thinks present law just doesn’t have enough teeth.
Chris Kemper runs the Longview Animal Care and Adoption Center and has done his fair share of animal control duties on the streets. He thinks a law that would protect dogs from extreme weather has been a long time coming.
“In Texas, in the penal code, 42.092, it says animals should be provided necessary food, water, care, and shelter. And it follows that with to the extent necessary to maintain health,” Kemper said. “And the problem with that is that it’s a little bit vague. The other problem with the statute is it doesn’t really define what shelter is.”
February’s five-day freeze brought the issue to the forefront for State Representative Nicole Collier and the Texas Humane Legislation Network, who received many calls about dogs left in the cold.
“Shelter really can be anything from a 57 Chevy to a big tree, to a couple of boards lying up against a fence,” Kemper said.
However, Kemper said there are more problems with the wording.
“The little part that says, “to the extent necessary to maintain health,” makes it difficult to require any type of shelter if the dog is healthy,” Kemper said.
He said that he wants something proactive to insure an outside dog doesn’t die from the elements.
“We have a severe penalty if something bad happens,” Kemper said.
He added that often when it gets to that point, it’s too late for the animal. He’d like to see the state do something to change that.
“Create some sort of quick-change for the animal that helps it before it has become injured before it has died,” Kemper said.
Kemper said he understands the bill would allow tickets to be written.
“It’s nice to see our state step up and show that Texas is a place where we do speak for those who can’t speak for themselves,” Kemper said.
Texas Humane Legislation Network says that if a bill like this was already a law, it may have prevented unnecessary deaths during last month’s freeze. They all hope HB 873 is voted into law before the heat of the summer.
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