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Senate bill relating to tethering, shelter for dogs in Texas closer to becoming law

Current law requires pet owners be given at least 24 hours notice to correct mistreatment before legal action is taken.

TEXAS, USA — In 53 years, The Humane Society's Pets Fur People has cared for hundreds of thousands of animals. Some from loving homes and many others that were neglected or abused.

Executive Director Gayle Helms says owning a pet is not easy.

“We're not really taught to be good pet owners," Helms said. "We're not taught to be good parents. And so it doesn't come natural for a lot of people to treat these dogs like they're part of the family. They really should be not tethered or put out in the backyard and forgotten about.”

She says Senate Bill 5, the bill that would work to make sure no dog is forgotten in extreme weather, being passed would be a relief.

Current law requires pet owners be given at least 24 hours notice to correct mistreatment before legal action is taken. Animal control says by the time that window has passed, it could be too late to help.

Chris Kemper is the Longview Animal Care and Adoption Center Supervisor.

“We want to get the animal shelter before it's hurt, before it's injured, before it's frozen to death or died out in the heat," Kemper said.

The current penal code and SB5 define shelter differently. Kemper says the current law is very hard to enforce right now.

“What it says is that 'you must provide food, water care and shelter, to the extent necessary to maintain health,'" said Kemper. "That's the exact language and it's a very vague language."

SB5 clears the air by defining shelter as structures that protect dogs from “inclement weather,” which includes “rain, hail, sleet, snow, high winds and extremely low or high temperatures.”

Kemper says the bill would give his team the support they need to advocate for these animals -- especially during the pandemic.

“There's people who are struggling to take care of themselves these days and with that struggle comes the struggle to take care of their animals," Kemper said.

RELATED: Bill requiring adequate shelter for dogs one step closer to becoming law in Texas