Last week, the warmblooded vertebrates among us—and a few Republicans, too—shed a tear or three after hearing that the Bidens’ longtime canine companion, Champ, had passed on to the land of eternal treats and belly scratches. (I don’t actually believe in an afterlife, but I carve out an admittedly irrational exception for dogs.)
Most people who have dogs treat them as members of the family in good standing—though, for the most part, we still can’t get them to do chores. Since my dogs’ job is barking at ghosts and begging for treats (I may eventually conscript them into peeing on Donald Trump’s grave, but I’ll never expect them to run the Iditarod), they’ve had no trouble meeting my expectations, and then some.
Unfortunately, not everyone treats dogs like members of the family. Some treat them horribly, with cruelty and neglect. A bill passed by the Texas legislature was supposed to address that—but Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who apparently thinks every conceivable problem, from power outages to animal cruelty, has a free-market solution—has vetoed the legislation. Because he’s fucking awful.
From Austin NBC affiliate KXAN:
Abbott called Senate Bill 474, known as the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, “micro-managing” and said, “Texas is no place for this kind of over-criminalization.”
The bipartisan act would have made it a Class C misdemeanor if someone knowingly leaves a dog outside unattended while restrained unless the owner can provide:
- Adequate shelter
- An area that allows the dog to stay away from standing water, urine or feces or otherwise cause harm to the dog
- Shade from direct sunlight
- Potable water
The act goes on to say owners couldn’t use a chain to restrain the dog, or a tether that has weights attached or is shorter than 10 feet or five times the length of the dog measured from nose to tail. It also stipulates that the dog’s collar or harness “fit properly.”
If you’re not convinced these laws are necessary, here’s an explainer from the Humane Society of the United States. In short, there are a lot of people in this country who either don’t know, or don’t care, about the harsh conditions many dogs endure when they’re chained outside for hours and hours on end, often in brutal weather conditions. If you have the stomach for it, you can also do a Google image search on “chained dogs,” though I don’t necessarily recommend it.
Requiring adequate shelter, water, shade, and a relatively clean area is essential—and literally the least our elected representatives can compel we humans to do.
In fact, most members of the Texas legislature—which is hardly a hotbed of bleeding-heart animal rights activism—thought this was an important bill. The bipartisan legislation passed the state Senate 28-3 and the House 83-32.
But Abbott? He doesn’t care. And now his indifference has earned him the hashtag #AbbottHatesDogs. Maybe if enough liberals invade Texans’ backyards to teach their dogs critical race theory, Abbott will sign a bill requiring them to stay inside. But since that’s unlikely to happen, this bill was dogs’—and dog lovers’—best hope.
Those hopes are now crushed, thanks to this slobbery St. Bernard sphincter who’s cosplaying as a statesman.
“This bill—which was carried with active support from sheriffs, law enforcement and animal control [officers]—would have clarified the vague language that makes the statute completely unenforceable,” Texas Humane Legislative Network Executive Director Shelby Bobosky told the Austin American-Statesman. “All the elements Gov. 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.”
Of course, Abbott didn’t confine his awfulness to animal welfare issues. He also vetoed a bill that would have required middle schools and high schools to provide lessons on preventing child abuse and other forms of family violence. His reasoning? Because it “fails to recognize the right of parents to opt their children out of the instruction.”
He also vetoed a bill that would have decreased penalties for criminal trespassing because it would have “hurt tools to arrest homeless people and immigrants at the border,” according to The Week. Abbott also nixed a section of the Texas budget that funds the state legislature, to spite Democrats who walked out of the last legislative session in order to block the state’s anti-democratic elections bill.
Say, maybe Abbott should be more concerned that Texas’ conservative hegemony has made it all but impossible for his state to keep its fucking lights on.
Or he could just torment a few dogs and call it a day. His choice.
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