DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – State lawmakers in Austin are moving forward with a new proposed law to protect some of society’s most vulnerable victims of cruelty.

The adequate shelter bill that passed in the State Senate would put more teeth into current state laws that require dog owners to provide suitable shelter and access to food and water.

Under the proposed law, owners who keep their dog tied up outside in extreme temperatures or far from food and water you could face up to a Class B misdemeanor.

That’s the equivalent of a DWI.

The bill that passed the Senate would require any tethering to be at least five times the length of the dog and within reach of “…a clean and sturdy shelter that allows the dog protection from rain, sleet, snow and subfreezing temperatures.”

The shelter must be large enough for a dog to stand, sit, turn around and lie down.

There’s a 12-year-old state law already non place but it only allows authorities to issue warnings.

(photo credit: Mesquite Animal Services)

The sight of a dog chained to a confined area indefinitely infuriates animal activists like Barbara Sternberg.

The Allen resident spends a lot of her time working with other volunteers who provide online lost pet searches and rounding up loose dogs in the city.

She’s also not shy about confronting owners of dogs she finds outside in the elements on extremely hot or exceptionally cold days, especially if they are tethered.

Steinberg is among those excited that a bill has passed the State Senate.

It would give dog owners 24 hours to comply before they would face criminal prosecution, something Sternberg believes will make a difference.

“You know we’ll drive through alleys and see dogs tied up and it’s just heartbreaking and there’s nothing you can do about it,” said Sternberg. “You can report it and the animal shelter goes out there, the SPCA goes out there and they can check but there’s not much they can do.”

There’s a companion bill in the State House that will also have to pass before it goes to the governor’s desk to become law.