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Relating to the unlawful restraint of a dog; creating a criminal offense.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated. The bill would repeal and replace the Health and Safety Code
subchapter addressing the unlawful restraint of dogs. A first time offense
would be a Class C misdemeanor and any repeat violations would be classified as
a Class B misdemeanor. According to the Office of Court Administration, no
significant impact to the state court system is anticipated.
HB 873 would replace the current section of code regulating the unlawful restraint of a dog. The new language would expand the definition of “Properly fitted” to a collar or harness that does not choke the dog and does not cause pain or injury to the dog. It would require an owner to provide the dog adequate shelter, enough space to avoid standing water, shade from direct sunlight, and potable water if they are to leave it outside and unattended. It would also prohibit the use of a chain or weights to restrain a dog while outside and unattended. The new language would make a known violation of the section an automatic offense, removing the current requirement that the owner has 24 hours upon being served notice of their violation to comply with the law.
Texas Action opposes HB 873 because it would violate the principles of limited government and personal responsibility. The changes would remove an important procedural protection for dog owners (24 hours to cure the violation) and excessively criminalize the restraint of a dog. The state should not engage in this level of micromanagement of dog ownership. This type of regulation can be, and often is, enacted at the local level.