Animal control to crack down when dogs are restrained in violation of state code

By John Dilmore

The Atlanta Police Department’s animal control division on Aug. 1 will begin cracking down on dog owners who keep their pets restrained in ways that violate Texas Health and Safety Code regulations governing treatment of animals.
Enforcement of the state code is meant to address situations around town that involve dogs being kept on chains, or bound by other restraints, in ways that don’t meet state code.
“There’s a lot of them where the poor dog never gets off that chain,” Animal Control Officer Barbara Adams said. “If you want a pet, treat him like a pet.”
Some particular concerns revolve around dogs being kept on chains not much longer than the animals themselves for extended periods, and being left chained outdoors in all manner of weather conditions, Adams said.
The city ordinance related to restraining pets states that it’s unlawful for any animal “owned, kept or harbored” to run at large, along with addressing various other nuisance-related issues. It’s a basic leash law.
Chapter 821 of the Texas Health and Safety Code/Title 10 sets forth a number of more specific regulations related to how dogs must be tied when left outdoors.
According to section 821.077, “an owner may not leave a dog outside and unattended by use of a restraint that unreasonably limits the dog’s movement” -- that includes use of “pinch-type, prong-type, or choke-type” collars, or collars that are not properly fitted. (A properly fitted collar is considered one that is 1-inch longer than the circumference of the dog’s neck.)
It also includes restraints that are too short (less than five times the length of the dog or 10 feet, whichever is greater; are in an unsafe condition; or that cause harm to the animal.
Subchapter D (Unlawful Restraint of a Dog) of Chapter 821, specifically sections 821.076, 821.077 and 821.078, can be read in their entirety online at .
The city will begin issuing warnings to violators on June 1, providing an approximately 60-day grace period, Adams said. On Aug. 1, the department will begin issuing Class C Misdemeanor citations to those in violation.
“Remember,” Adams said last week, “if you refuse to pay these fines, they will become a warrant.”
Adams was quick to point out this does not mean dog owners cannot secure their animals outside, which is required by city ordinance. It does mean that the dog cannot be tied to a stationary object, such as a tree, for more than three hours in a 24-hour period (something also touched upon in the state code). The rest of the time, it must be restrained using a system that allows movement, such as a running line or trolley system. 
“This can be as simple as a clothesline with a clasp that allows him to run the length,” Adams said. 

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