SECTION 11. Subchapter D, Chapter 822, Health and Safety Code, is amended by adding Section 822.0424 to read as follows:
Sec. 822.0424. RESPONSIBILITY OF DOG OWNER IN CERTAIN MUNICIPALITIES.
(a) This section applies only to a city with a population of more than one million.
(b) A person who owns or keeps custody or control of a dog weighing 40 pounds or more shall ensure that the dog, at any time the dog is not on a leash in the immediate control of a person, is kept inside a residence or in a secure enclosure on the premises where the dog is kept.
(To download a Word version of HB 1982, in its entirety, go here: http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/81R/billtext/doc/HB01982I.doc)
As you know, I am not a lawyer, and I only had time this morning for a cursory reading of the bill, but the section above appears to be the only part that does not specifically address "vicious dogs." By requiring all owners of any dog over 40 pounds to keep their animals restrained at all times means that any medium-to-large breed dog would not be allowed to run off-leash, even at designated leash-free zones in the city of Austin. Of course, our Park is not an official park, but if this bill were to pass, it might add to the infractions we already incur, scofflaws that we are, by allowing our 40+ pound dogs to run around.
This section of the bill should strike dog owners as utterly ridiculous. How is it even enforceable? Will Animal Control run around with a portable scale to weigh all the dogs? Pretty unlikely. And what are the consequences of denying medium-to-large dogs access to city parks because of their size? A city full of big dogs that are unhappy, spastic, and even less likely to behave. It's a bad idea.
I suspect that the bill writers are really trying every way they can to screen out pit bulls and other large breeds that have been rightly or wrongly typified as dangerous to people and other dogs.
The bill was read to the County Affairs Committee yesterday (4/6).
As always, if you want to take action, the folks to call or e-mail are our local reps, especially Elliott Naishtat and Valinda Bolton, who is on the County Affairs Committee. Their contact info is available at www.capitol.state.tx.us/
Now, can I watch American Idol in peace tonight?