A motto of the Longhorn state is “Don’t mess with Texas.”
Evidently Gov. Greg Abbott has decided it is ok for humans to mess with canines. Shame on him. The governor himself owns two dogs. Go figure.
Excerpted from The Guardian 6.22.2021
The governor of Texas has pulled a surprise move, vetoing a bipartisan bill that would have provided greater protections for dogs against human abuse.
The Republican governor, Greg Abbott, vetoed a bill on Friday that would have made unlawful restraint of a dog a criminal offense, sending animal rights activists and legislators on both sides of the aisle into a fray and spurring the hashtag #AbbottHatesDogs.
Abbott owns two golden retrievers named Pancake and Peaches, who occasionally make social media appearances.
“I have to hand it to the governor. ‘Anti-voting rights, pro-animal cruelty’ is a bold re-election message,” tweeted Julián Castro, a former Democratic presidential candidate, who included animal rights in his policy platform, and former mayor of San Antonio.
Law enforcement agencies expressed their disappointment over the bill’s downfall to the Houston Chronicle.
“Governor Abbott says that the current Texas statute already protects dogs, but this bill – which was carried with active support from sheriffs, law enforcement and animal control officers – would have clarified the vague language that makes the statute completely unenforceable,” said Shelby Bobosky, the Texas Humane Legislative Network’s executive director, in an emailed statement to the Guardian.
She said the bill would have provided a cleanup of basic standards for restraining dogs and could have protected dogs left outside in very hot and very cold temperatures. Bobosky said the network, which advocated for the bill, was “devastated” by the veto.
The move is being castigated across social media.
State senate bill 474, dubbed the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, aimed to ban the use of heavy chains to keep dogs tethered. The bill had bipartisan support in the legislature, passing the house 83-32 and the senate 28-3.
In his veto, Abbott said state statutes already existed to protect dogs from animal cruelty, and the penalties proposed in the bill of $500 to $2,000, and jail time of up to 180 days, were excessive. The bill said that dog owners could have dogs outside but could not restrain them with short lines and chains or anything that could cause injury and pain to the dog.
Dog owners would have faced a $500 penalty for a first offense and class C misdemeanor, and the next penalty would have been a class B misdemeanor, for a fine of up to $2,000 and up to three months in jail.
Abbott said Texas was not a place for that kind of “micro-managing and over-criminalization”.
“I’m disappointed in the governor,” the state senator Eddie Lucio Jr, a Democrat who sponsored the bill, told the Texas Tribune. “I don’t agree with everything he does, but I respect him when it comes to quality of life and protecting life. I want to include dogs in that issue.”