Texas Governor Greg Abbott refuses to sign dog cruelty prevention bill

Austin, Texas – Texas Governor Greg Abbott is facing some ruff criticism on Twitter after declining to sign a bill to curb animal cruelty in the state.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott poses with his golden retriever Pancake.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott poses with his golden retriever Pancake.  © Screenshot/Instagram/texaspancake

Senate Bill 474, or the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, sought to add protections for pet pups, including a ban on heavy chain tethers and leaving dogs outside without access to water, shade, or shelter.

After receiving support from animal control, law enforcement, prosecutors, and animal advocates as well as strong bipartisan approval in both legislative chambers, it seemed the bill was certain to go through – that is, until Governor Abbott got his hands on it.

Abbott, himself the owner of two golden retrievers named Pancake and Peaches, vetoed the measure to outlaw any form of restraint that "causes pain or injury to the dog," the Houston Chronicle reported.

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The Republican governor explained his Friday decision, saying, "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. Texas is no place for this kind of micro-managing and over-criminalization."

The Texas Human Legislation Network (THLN), a non-profit very involved in drafting and advocating for the bill, issued a statement in response, arguing, "Governor Abbott says that the current Texas statute already protects dogs, but this bill – which was carried with active support from sheriffs, law enforcement and animal control offers – would have clarified the vague language that makes the statute completely unenforceable."

"All the elements Governor Abbott cited as 'micromanagement' were carefully negotiated compromises that addressed concerns from lawmakers in both parties to strike the right balance for our diverse state," the statement continued. "Preventing animal cruelty while making our state a safer place is one of the few nonpartisan issues facing the legislature and animal advocates are reliable primary and general voters."

Since the veto, many Texans have taken to Twitter to express their disappointment, using the now-trending hashtag #AbbottHatesDogs.

Abbott vetoed a total of 20 bills

Abbott cut funding for the Texas Legislature after state Democrats staged a walkout, blocking the Republican-sponsored restrictive voting bill.
Abbott cut funding for the Texas Legislature after state Democrats staged a walkout, blocking the Republican-sponsored restrictive voting bill.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

The Safe Outdoor Dogs Act wasn't the only bill the governor declined to sign on Friday. The Texas Tribune reported that Abbott vetoed a total of 20 bills, seven of which were written by Republicans and 13 by Democrats.

Included among the measures not passed was a bill that would have opened up opportunities for parole sooner for inmates below the age of 18 at the time the crime was committed. Another bill Abbott refused to sign would have banned the use of statements obtained through hypnosis in court – a controversial practice used around 1,800 times in the last 40 years!

Additionally, he struck down a bill that would have required public schools to instruct students on family violence, dating violence, and child abuse prevention.

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The governor also used a line-item veto to remove funding for the Texas Legislature and its staffers, following through on a threat he made after Texas Democrats walked out of the legislative chamber, effectively killing Texas' Republican-sponsored voter restriction bill.

"Texans don’t run from a legislative fight, and they don’t walk away from unfinished business," Abbott said in a statement, according to the Texas Tribune.

"Funding should not be provided for those who quit their job early, leaving their state with unfinished business and exposing taxpayers to higher costs for an additional legislative session," he continued.

Cover photo: Screenshot/Instagram/texaspancake

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