A pair of Abilene animal advocacy groups praised changes created by the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, which includes provisions for shelter, water and humane restraints.
Paul Washburn with Rescue the Animals said the law should "make a huge difference," especially in its requirements about proper shelter for dogs.
The shelter requirements include protections from temperature extremes, a source of drinkable water and that dogs have sufficient space to stand, turn around and lie down.
Just how effective the law is depends on how cities interpret and enforce it, Washburn said.
"I am afraid that it will not be a high priority, and that they will not be aggressive in issuing citations," he said. "It will make no impact unless people receive citations and are fined. Even if the fine is reduced to a small amount, this is all that will make an impression."
Washburn said he believes the city of Abilene should be more aggressive in writing violations based on vaccinations, tethering, abuse and neglect.
"Obviously, some time should be allowed for people to become familiar with the new law and how it works," he said. "I am afraid there will be many people believing that no animal can be tethered, resulting in a lot of complaints that are not violations."
Andrea Robison of All Kind Animal Initiative said her group believes the act is a "step forward in the right direction" for animals in Texas.
"We are hoping that the law helps bring about some much-needed education about how to better care for our pets," she said, adding that All Kind also stands ready to help people who need help adjusting to the new law.
"If people need help providing better shelter for their outdoor pets or accessing better fitting collars or harnesses, we can provide those resources," Robison said.
Those interested in bringing their pets inside during colder temperatures but need assistance accessing crates — or learning how to crate-train their pets — can also receive help, she said.
The organization may be contacted through its website, allkindabilene.org, Robison said.
"Overall, we hope that this law is just the beginning for Texas in making the statement that how we care for our animals matters," she said.
Brian Bethel covers city and county government and general news for the Abilene Reporter-News. If you appreciate locally driven news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com.
This article originally appeared on Abilene Reporter-News: Advocacy groups: New dog safety law important but enforcement vital