RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral)- The Safe Outdoor Dogs Act went into effect on January 18, 2022. The new law aims at putting an end to abuse for outdoor dogs.

“If you cannot provide these basic needs for an animal, don’t even get a pet,” said Martin Sandoval, Public Information Officer with the Brownsville Police Department.

A strong message by Officer Sandoval, who added this law is aimed at improving living conditions for outdoor pets. He explained the requirements needed if residents are keeping their dogs outdoors.

“If your dog is going to be tied outside he’s going to have to have shelter, he’s got to have a dog house that protects him from the elements,” said Officer Sandoval. “That means an enclosed house to where he can stand and actually move around.”

The Safe Outdoor Dogs Act bans the use of chains on animals. Dog owners must use humane materials like collars and leashes, but the animal should also have enough room to walk around.

“The dog has to be able to go into a shelter, that’s very important because it needs to be away from sunlight and it also shouldn’t be on standing water or its own waste,” said Lt. Reynaldo Sepulveda with the Edinburg Police Department.

Officers told ValleyCentral they have received a number of calls since the law took effect. They want the public to know enforcement is being ramped up to end these crimes.

“Our animal control has actually been 24 hours now. So there’s actually an animal control officer on-call all the time,” said Officer Sandoval.

Officers said first-time offenders will get citations, but those who are caught violating the law repeatedly could face serious charges of up to $500 or face 180 days in jail with a $2,000 fine.

Officers encourage residents to report anything they believe is wrong to local police and can remain anonymous.