BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A new state law about how you can tie up your dog outside goes into effect on January 18. The so-called “Dog Bill of Rights” replaces a previous law for mistreating your dog that activists said didn’t have enough teeth.

The Dog Bill of Rights, aka Senate Bill 5, was signed into law following the last special session.

“Best way to think of this is, this is what a dog has a right to,” explained Edward Adrian Sandoval, the administrative first assistant district attorney for Cameron County. “This is the dog’s rights, and if we infringe on the dogs rights, as owners and possessors can be faced with criminal culpability for failing to provide them with what they have a right to.”

Some of the requirements under the new law say dogs must have good shelter from the elements, be kept away from standing water, have a shady spot to lie down and must have drinking water. 

The full list of changes can be viewed either in the text of the bill above, or in the photograph below.

“Not only is there criminal penalties for failing to meet your dog’s rights, but, if this qualifies as cruelly treated, then an animal patrol officer or police officer can seize your animal,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval said the previous law was not heavily enforced and relied mostly on neighbors or concerned citizens calling the police. The new law will still rely on neighbors calling the police. If you see something, say something.

Police or animal control “can only respond and our office can only act if they hear about what’s going on,” Sandoval said.

Helping dogs in need helps the entire community.

“And we welcome it,” Sandoval said. “This is why we’re here. To ensure that the community stays safe, and its a place for all of us to live, laugh, and love, and appreciate existence.”

If you see a dog that you think might be being mistreated you’re encouraged to call local animal control or 911.