Dog and cat lobby to target opponents of tethering bill in upcoming elections

Chained dog found in Hunt County, near Dallas, on Nov. 1, 2017. (Courtesy: SPCA of Texas)
Chained dog found in Hunt County, near Dallas, on Nov. 1, 2017. (Courtesy: SPCA of Texas)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The first-ever political action committee (PAC) for Texas animals is gearing up to donate money to their allies and spend money against their opponents. The Texas Human Legislative Network PAC launched over the weekend in response to the failure of an anti-tethering bill this legislative session.

Senate Bill 1090 by State Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, and State Rep. Sarah Davis, R-West University Place, would have strengthened state law against owners who chain their dogs outside. The proposed law hoped to ensure that if an animal is chained outside, they have access to shelter, food, water and their safety is not in jeopardy.

The bill would have required owners to provide dogs weather-protecting shelter, dry ground, shade and drinkable water when left tethered outside. It would have also restricted owners from using restraints made of chains or with weights attached.

The rejected bill would have strengthened laws currently in place to help protect pets left tethered in yards. Right now owners are not allowed to keep dogs restrained in their yards in cases of extreme weather between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. or longer than 3 hours a day. Pinch, pron and choke-type collars are prohibited.

The PAC has an advertisement up and running online to tell the story of the failed attempt to pass SB 1090.

The executive director of the Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN), Laura Donahue, wrote in an op-ed in the Texas Tribune, “As we look ahead to the 2019 Legislature, we are organizing to support the pro-animal lawmakers we hope to re-elect, and to fund the opponents of those lawmakers whose seem determined to force the continued suffering of chained-up dogs in Texas.”

“It’s hard to influence politics unless you’re organized and so this lets us be organized,” said Natalie Lynch, board member of THLN.

Becoming a PAC will allow THLN to donate, block walk and campaign for and against candidates. “Allow us to enable the right people to get into office,” said Lynch. 

She says they’ll campaign for Republicans and Democrats as long as they vote their way on cats and dogs.

Along with supporting members they align with, the group will target Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia and Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington.

Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia, told KXAN he believed the bill was government overreach onto pet owners and was “basically elevating the pet above the pet owner.”

He fought against the bill because it laid out what type of material used, where, and how a pet owner ties up their dog. He says animal abuse is already against the Texas penal code and going beyond what is already on the books would be micromanaging dog owners.

“I disagree that the state of Texas should be in the business of telling you how you can tether your dog at all, as long as your pet is healthy and safe and not neglected,” said Rep. Bell.

Rep. Stickland has yet to return a phone call to KXAN but on the Texas House floor he expressed he did not know a reason for a new Texas tethering law.

Rep. Tinderholt could not be reached for comment. Rep. Burrow’s office declined to comment on the new PAC.

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