Why #AbbottHatesDogs is trending in Texas — and is it fair to Governor Abbott?

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is being portrayed on social media as someone who hates dogs after he vetoed a bipartisan bill aimed at animal cruelty. The bill attempted to clarify existing laws specifically concerning the treatment of dogs.

Reaction to the veto has been sharp against Abbott, who has been labeled anti-dog by some as the story went national. The social media hashtag #AbbottHatesDogs has been trending for several days.

Senate Bill No. 474, which Abbott vetoed on Monday, would have clarified existing laws to establish basic standards of outdoor shelter and restraint for dogs.

Abbott, however, viewed the updated laws as “micro-managing” and “over-criminalization,” as he outlined his in released veto statement.

“Texans love their dogs, so it is no surprise that our statutes already protect them by outlawing true animal cruelty,” Abbott, who has a family dog, said in a release. But Abbott took issue with some of the specifics of the bill, including dog owners being required to monitor the tailoring of their dog’s collar, the time a dog spends in the bed of a truck, and the length of a chain a dog is tethered to in someone’s yard.

The Texas Humane Legislative Network, which helped push the bill, says the updated laws had the support of law enforcement and animal control officers across the state.

“THLN and its thousands of members across Texas are devastated by the veto of the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act,” THLN executive director Shelby Bobosky said in a release.

Bobosky said the current animal cruelty laws on the books are too vague, which makes many of the statutes “completely unenforceable.”

“[The bill] contained simple fixes to protect dogs that are left outside on heavy chains with no shelter or water in a state that experiences extreme high and low temperatures,” Bobosky said. “All the elements Governor Abbott cited as ‘micromanagement’ were carefully negotiated compromises that addressed concerns from lawmakers in both parties to strike the right balance for our diverse state.”

The bill was passed with “overwhelming bipartisan support” from state lawmakers from every corner of the state.

“The issues that this bill intended to address will not go away, and neither will we,” Bobosky said. “Preventing animal cruelty while making our state a safer place is one of the few nonpartisan issues facing the legislature and animal advocates are reliable primary and general voters.”

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