I have three things to say about this.
Perfect representation of @GregAbbott_TX’s priorities. He’d rather prepare for a vanity run for President in 2024 with his fake border wall than try to resolve any of the real #Texas problems. #AbbottFailedTexas #AbbottHatesDogs #TexasPowerGrid #TexasDeservesBetter
— James Scurlock (@realscurlock) 9:53 AM – 21 June 2021
Texans love their dogs, no doubt. But now, some Texans are calling out Gov. Greg Abbott, alleging that he does not.
The Republican governor vetoed a bill Friday to expand animal cruelty laws and make the unlawful restraint of a dog a criminal offense.
Senate Bill 474, better known as the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, would provide greater protections for dogs, including banning the use of heavy chains to tether dogs.
Animal control officers, law enforcement agencies, county prosecutors and animal advocates called for reform to the existing tethering law passed nearly 15 years ago to prevent cruel and inhumane tethering.
The Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN), a nonprofit that promotes anti-cruelty legislation and one of the ringleaders in efforts to pass the bill, said it would have provided “much-needed clarification to existing law to establish basic standards of outdoor shelter and restraint for dogs.”
The bill specifies that dog owners can have dogs outside but cannot restrain them with chains, short lines or anything that “causes pain or injury to the dog.”
Owners would face up to a $500 penalty for a first offense class C misdemeanor with the bill’s revision, and the penalty would jump to a class B misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail, for those previously cited.
The bill received ample bipartisan support in the Texas legislature, passing in the Senate 28-3 and the House 83-32, but died once it reached Abbott’s desk.
Abbott, who is a dog dad to a golden retriever, Pancake, sees nothing wrong with the current law and said state statutes already protect dogs by “outlawing true animal cruelty.”
“Senate Bill 474 would compel every dog owner, on pain of criminal penalties, to monitor things like the tailoring of the dog’s collar, the time the dog spends in the bed of a truck, and the ratio of tether-to-dog length, as measured from the tip of the nose to the base of the tail,” he said in a release.
“Texas is no place for this kind of micro-managing and over-criminalization.”
THLN representatives originally felt hopeful after the recent victory from the legislature given the tethering legislation’s previous failures to pass for nearly a decade.
Now they say they’re devastated by the governor’s decision.
2. I’m genuinely fascinated by the process that led to this bill being singled out for a veto. It’s pretty low stakes, it had broad bipartisan support as well as the backing of law enforcement, multiple cities already have ordinances like this so any negative effects ought to be known by now, and it’s not clear to me there was any organized opposition to this bill. The earlier story that highlighted this bill as a shining example of bipartisan agreement in the Lege didn’t cite any opposition to it, though there may have been some that just didn’t get enough notice. We can have a deep conversation about the will of the people and the discretion of the executive and so on and so forth, but really what this comes down to for me is what was this to Abbott? He could have signaled his lack of support before the bill was passed (and maybe he did, we don’t know from the story), so why did this play out like this? There’s another layer to this, I suspect.
3. The other thing that intrigues me about this is that I just don’t see what the upside of this was for Abbott. This wasn’t him swooping in to protect some right-wing article of faith, or to defend one of his patrons from a thing they didn’t like. Indeed, in addition to being a bill that had bipartisan support, as the story notes people love dogs. They’re passionate about them. It seems to me that this is the kind of thing that a Governor can do that will make some number of voters who had no particular reason to be mad at him very mad at him. It’s easy to turn into a slogan or rallying cry, as the AbbottHatesDogs hashtag shows. And sure, there’s a good chance this all fizzles out in a week or so and no one remembers it next year, but again, what did Abbott have to gain from this? Was there no one on his team to point this out to him? Or did they just shrug it off? Again, this may end up being nothing, but it’s nothing against all downside. What were they thinking?
4. I apologize for the terrible pun in the post title. Those responsible have been sacked.