Animal lovers organize ‘Dogs Against Stickland’ walk after rep kills protection bill

Some furry constituents are not happy with state Rep. Jonathan Stickland.

So they, and their humans, are going to walk together for one mile Monday to cheer on the fact that the 86th Legislature — a time when Stickland, R-Bedford, killed an animal protection bill many had hoped would pass — ends that day.

“Jonathan Stickland is Texas’ worst legislator,” read a post on Facebook announcing the Dogs Against Stickland walk. “Let’s get together in good cheer as a pack and walk our pups from the local park to his office to show our support for good, reasonable legislation and that we do NOT agree with Stickland killing this and many other bills.”

As of Friday afternoon, 58 people noted on Facebook that they are attending Monday’s walk. Another 266 indicated they are “interested” in the event.

At issue is Senate Bill 295, which addressed the “unlawful restraint of a dog.”

The bill addressed issues ranging from adequate shelters to collars that don’t choke or cause pain for dogs. It called for pet owners to ensure their animals have adequate water, shade and shelter — and that no chains or weighted leashes are used to restrain them.

The bill was approved by the Senate and a House committee before Stickland used a procedural move known as a “point of order” to essentially kill the bill in the waning days of the session.

He posted a statement on Facebook that he tried to save the bill and wanted to make changes to it, such as removing the word “pain” from being associated with collars because otherwise it could have outlawed training collars. He also wanted to make the bill apply across the state and reduce the penalty for offenders to Class C misdemeanor, from the proposed Class B misdemeanor.

He said he tried to find common ground with the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Sarah Davis, R-Houston.

“I told her if she would not work with me, I would be forced to try and kill the entire bill,” he wrote in his statement. “She didn’t care. ... As a dog owner myself, I am truly disappointed in the outcome.”

This was the second session in a row this bill was killed, according to a statement from the Texas Humane Legislation Network. But group leaders say they won’t give up on this bill.

“We will work hard over the interim to bolster even greater support amongst everyday citizens of Texas and our lawmakers,” said Laura Donahue, executive director of THLN.

For now, critics in Stickland’s district will walk.

They’ll gather at 10 a.m Monday at Bedford’s Central Park, 1200 Central Drive, and walk to Stickland’s office, which is about one mile away.

“It’s a dog walk, a bunch of like-minded dog owners in the community, getting together for a morning stroll with our pups to enjoy the weather and the end of the legislative session in which Stickland killed (again) bi-partisan anti-tethering legislation,” the organizer of the walk told the Star-Telegram.

Stickland responded to the event online, noting that he and his staff will be at the Texas Capitol on Monday.

“It’s the last day of the legislative session,” he posted on Facebook. “You should reschedule when I will be in town. That is, if you want to talk.

“PS- Be careful on Forest Ridge. Sidewalk is narrow at parts and people regularly speed down it.”

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Anna M. Tinsley grew up in a journalism family and has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 2001. She has covered the Texas Legislature and politics for more than two decades and has won multiple awards for political reporting, most recently a third place from APME for deadline writing. She is a Baylor University graduate.