The people and pups of Bedford, Texas might be ready to fetch a new state representative.
On Memorial Day, over 130 dog owners and their pups gathered at Rep. Jonathan Stickland’s office to organize a one-mile walk in protest of his decision to kill an animal cruelty bill.
Senate Bill 295 would have criminally charged dog owners for using a chain, weighted leash or short tether to restrain a dog outside. The bill would have also required owners to provide their dogs with adequate shelter, shade, and water – necessities in Texas’ climate.
SB 295 was slated to pass the House floor, the final stage before heading to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk, when Stickland used a political ploy called a “point of order” to bring down the bill with less than a week remaining in the legislative session.
Stickland took to Twitter to issue a response to why he the killed bill. Stickland said he had “major concerns” with the legislation and wanted to work with the bill’s author, Rep. Sarah Davis (R-Houston), to make changes. “I told her if she would not work with me, I would be forced to try and kill the entire bill,” Stickland wrote.
Stickland called the bill “well-intended,” and said he would bring a “properly written” tethering bill to the floor next session. However, Tim Hardin, Stickland’s Chief of Staff, posted comments on Twitter that lead people to believe otherwise. Hardin boasted that this was Stickland’s fourth straight session to kill a tethering bill. “Animals Don’t Have Rights #SorryLib,” Hardin said in a tweet.
In an email to Reform Austin, Dogs Against Stickland organizer Valerie Watson said she was “completely overwhelmed and impressed with the amount of support [the] event gathered”.
The goal of the event was to bring visibility to the issue/need for humane legislation, and to show Stickland that we are not afraid to stand up to him, in his home-district, in his neighborhood, and march to his office, Watson said.
Stickland has a reputation for being the lone no vote on important pieces of legislation in the Texas Legislature. Stickland’s lone no vote on SB 295 is “indicative of a larger problem… he doesn’t care what his constituents want, and he doesn’t care what Texans want, “ Watson said.
When Stickland decided to single handedly kill SB 295, Watson knew she had to do something.
The success of the event has inspired her to continue standing up against her district’s representative, and this is not the last bark you will hear from the Dogs Against Stickland, she said.