After nearly 14 months of the new statewide leash law in effect, El Campo pet owners made the switch happen with flying colors, keeping dogs safe and fines down, officials said.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the “No Leash Law” in October 2021 and it came into effect Jan. 18, 2022. The act makes it a class C Misdemeanor to restrain a dog with a chain, a weighted restraint, or with a tether that’s less than 10 feet or five times the length of the dog, whichever is greater. The dog also must have adequate space, drinkable water and shelter from the elements.
Owners in violation could be subject to a fine of up to $500.
It was an effort of the animal control department to get information to pet owners. Department officials credit that effort with the low number of citations.
“Animal control officers did a great job of educating the public prior to the law going into effect. If they saw a pet owner that was potentially out of compliance with the new leash law, they stopped by and either talked to the pet owner or left a pamphlet with them,” El Campo Assistant Police Chief Jennifer Mican said.
Despite concern about the public response to the new law, citizens stepped up and changed how they tethered their dogs.
“I was really worried about it, but this city did awesome,” El Campo Animal Control Officer David Baros said. “Easily 90 percent of El Campo got the right collar with the right length and I had to go back to very few people and talk to folks ... I might have given out one or two tickets only.”
El Campo Animal Control also helped some owners get into compliance through the kindness of local shelters.
“Some people were having financial problems and we went out and got donations and were able to help people get them the (tethers), I talked to a bunch of rescues and we helped them out,” Baros said.
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