TEXAS– Senate Bill 5, also known as the Safe Outdoor Dog Act, will go into effect January 1. The bill says dogs can no longer be restrained by chains or have weights attached.

“They’re heavy,” Michelle Ann from HOT Lost and Found Pets said. “In the summertime they get really hot, and we see a lot of burns around the neck… we see a lot of dogs that have embedded chains.”

Hewitt Animal control officer Luis Leyva says you can restrain them on a roller or trolley system.

“That way, it’s not restrained to one single object like a tree or a pole,” Leyva said.

The restraint length must be at least ten feet or more, depending on the length of your dog.

To figure out how long the restraint needs to be, you must measure your dog from it’s nose to it’s tail and multiply that by five.

Also, the restraint must be attached to the dog’s collar or harness that fits properly.

“Changing the chain law… It’s a big step, but I need people to know it’s not illegal to properly tether your dog,” Ann said.

If the animals are outside, they must have adequate shelter that is sturdy, protects from inclement weather, and has appropriate dimensions that allow the dog to move around and lie down comfortably.

They also must have access to water and be able to avoid animal waste and standing water.

The other big difference is the timing of when law enforcement can get involved.

“Before, when we saw a violation, we would have to give them 24 hours to correct the situation,” Leyva said.

Now, animal control can act immediately.

“It makes it a whole lot easier for us to take care of the animal,” Leyva said. “We don’t have to wait for exigent circumstances to where if the animal is in immediate danger, then we can do something.”

If you see someone violating these laws, call animal control.

If convicted, violators could face a class c misdemeanor and up to a $500 fine on the first offense.