That doggone veto

I have three things to say about this.

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.

1. In re: “micro-managing and over-criminalization” – Yeah, tell that to women seeking abortions, local election officials, history teachers, and every pot smoker in the state.

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.

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9 Responses to That doggone veto

  1. Hal says:

    So typically Repub.

    1. “Even if nobody is against this, I can veto it, and because I can, I am doing it.”

    2. “This treats someone/something in a mean and authoritarian manner, and therefore I am doing it.”

    3. “I hate micromanagers, but if I want to micromanage that is good, and shows that I am a breathtaking champion fighter for the American way. Oh yeah and it shows that I hate something, and my voters like that in a politician.”

    Afterwards Trump called Abbott and called him a stone cold loser for letting himself be photographed wit that dumb loser Pancake dog. Reminded him that the Don never had any grizzly mutts in the WH, but he did kick a few as a kid.

  2. Hal says:

    Oh and it was smart to stop that rural internet stuff too, because the internet is overregulated as well as underregulated, making it the tool of the devil.

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    I have to admit this is a very WTF move from Abbott. It’s a good law, and a necessary one. I see sad treatment of dogs like this all the time in the hoods and barrios of Houston, and it’s upsetting.

    Maybe Abbott was concerned about the disparate impact of this law, since it would mainly apply to blacks and Mexicans, and thus, would be a racist law? I mean, even in the redneck trailer parks of Montgomery County, you don’t see dogs chained with logging chains in the Texas heat. We all know where we see this.

    Shame on Abbott. I wonder, can the legislature run it through again and override the veto? If so, they should.

  4. Kibitzer says:


    Have been for more than 100 years. So explained Tweeter Laureate before moving on to the federal realm: See Strickland v. Medlen, 397 S.W.3d 184 (Tex. 2013).

    But also see Strickland, 397 S.W.3d at 185-86, for judicial acknowledgement — at least in dicta — that a beloved companion dog is not a toaster. (not about dogs, but about serving as a state and federal appellate judge, judging, and judicious use of social media).


    Also, Abbott himself needs to be tethered. Way too much aggregation of chief exectutive power, whether through improper use of the Texas Disaster Act, use of appointment/nonreappointement power, and tightening grip upon state agencies, not to mention micro-management of judges’ bail decisions through GA-13, and preemption of local emergency management in the absence a state constitutional supremacy clause.

    The use of the veto in this case, however, does not appear to offend the separation of powers.

    Defunding the Legislature and its support agencies is a different matter.

    That’s what autocrats and sundry strongmen would do.

  5. David Fagan says:

    “Gaegogi” is not a vintage Nintendo game.

  6. Bill Daniels says:

    Wasn’t it Ghandi that said something about, you can tell a lot about society by the way it treats its animals?

    Here you go. Look at the diversity cultures that mistreat animals here. Look at the cruel Halal and Kosher ways of butchering animals….
    slit the animal’s throat while it is still alive so it can feel real pain and terror, as it becomes a race…will it finally die from choking to death on its own blood, or will it die ifrom exsanguination. At least a bolt gun to the head is instantaneous.

    The cruelty apparently IS the point. Then you have the people this law is intended to stop, people who see dogs as a security system that must exist and eat in its own filth. And then you have the Michael Vicks of the world.

    Abbott’s veto makes me so mad I am going to dash off an angry email not only to him, but also to my reps.

  7. C.L. says:

    Laws against folks killing each other (and the legal ramifications of same) ain’t stopping folks from killing each other.

    Laws against discharging firearms in the public arena (and the legal ramifications of same) ain’t stopping anyone from poppin’ caps in their front yard on 07/04 or 12/31.

    Laws against chaining up Fido in the back yard (and the legal ramifications of same) ain’t stoppin’ anyone from chaining up Fido.

    Passing a bill to (further) outlaw any of the above ain’t gonna stop the killings or the pet neglect.

  8. Bill Daniels says:


    That’s all absolutely true, but we have a law against murder so that when people commit murder, we have some kind of punishment to give them. Imagine if murder was legal. So I go murder a family of 6. Police come out, determine that yes, I murdered the whole family, and then they just leave. “Whelp, nothing we can do here, let’s go Sarge.”

    That’s what’s happening right now. Diversity dog owners have their dogs chained with logging chains, someone complains, the SPCA or other cops come out, see the cruelty, and then just leave….nothing they can do, no law being broken.

    With the law that Pinche Abbott just vetoed, those cops would be able to do something, both to criminally charge the owners, AND rescue the dogs who are being systemically abused.

  9. Manny says:

    Unchain the dogs, chain the white racists a la Bill Daniels. The world would be a safer place—no more attempts at overthrowing our government.

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