Texas law says it's illegal to leave your pet outside during severe weather

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Here's how to keep your pets safe and healthy in winter weather.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Did you know that Texas law requires pets to be brought inside during severe weather?

As a major winter storm is expected to dump freezing rain and bitterly cold temperatures over many parts of Texas this weekend, officials are reminding people about the risks of leaving your pet outside.

"It is illegal to restrain your dog under these conditions," wrote Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez on Twitter Friday afternoon.

According to Section 821 of the Texas Statute, it is illegal to restrain your dog during severe weather conditions. This includes heat advisories, freezing temperatures, hurricanes, tropical storms and tornado warnings.

Gonzalez said crews with the Harris County Animal Cruelty Task Force are on standby, prepared to respond to any pets that could be in harm's way.

On Friday, the Harris County Precinct 4 Constable's Office said a deputy spotted a dog in distress after it was left in the cold.

The dog was released to a family member and the owner now faces animal cruelty charges.

Houston, which usually has mild winters, was forecast to have its coldest temperatures in 30 years. No part of the state was expected to escape this blast of winter weather.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.