AUSTIN, Texas — Lawmakers in Austin are expected to vote on a bill that could improve the quality of life for dogs chained up outside in the brutal Texas heat with no food or water.

Harris County Cruelty Task Force Investigator, Sgt. Charles Jantzen, says it’s been a problem for a long time. Senate Bill 295 is hoping to change that.

“We have a current law on the books that does make it illegal to tether animals, however, the exemptions that were written into the law makes the law virtually unenforceable,” said Sgt. Jantzen. “By this law passing, we will be able to further affect animals’ lives in our community.”

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This new bill outlines direct requirements. It defines what “adequate shelter” is: dogs need to have protection from extreme heat and cold, access to clean water and food.

It also makes it illegal to use a chain as a restraint, and it eliminates the 24-hour period law enforcement currently has to wait before they can issue a citation.

“We’re hoping they pass this bill because it allows for the protection of animals,” said Tena Faust.

Faust, whose nonprofit Houston PetSet partners with the Cruelty Task Force, says Texas dogs can’t afford to wait another two years to have this kind of legislation passed. She’s urging people to get the message to Austin tonight.

“We absolutely need you to call your House representative and say please support SB 295 for the animals,” Tena said. “Dogs have died on the ends of chains…they’ve died because of disease, they’ve frozen to death, they get sick because they don’t have clean water – this bill just provides them with basic shelter and care.”

Learn more about Houston PetSet on their website.