Part of the job of being Texas Attorney General is settling disputes, both large and small, between county-level officials in the form of advisory opinions. And one of Greg Abbott’s latest opinions will be of interest to both government lawyers and dog lovers -- particularly government lawyers who want to bring their non-service trained canines to work at the county courthouse.
In an August 26th opinion, Abbott addresses Titus County Attorney John Mark Cobern’s question whether his county’s commissioner’s court may establish a rule that prohibits him from taking his dog to work at his county office. And Abbott’s answer to that dog dispute is, yes, the commissioners do have the authority to establish such a rule.
Cobern had a reason for wanting to bring his dog to work, as Abbott notes in his opinion.
“You assert that the presence of your dog helps to maintain a safer office environment,” Abbott writes. “Whether that assertion is accurate or not, under the facts as you relate them a reviewing court would likely conclude that the commissioners court's order does not unreasonably interfere with the performance of the statutory or constitutional duties of the county attorney. Accordingly, given the commissioners court's statutory authority to maintain and regulate county offices, a reviewing court would likely uphold the commissioners court order prohibiting animals in all county offices, including the office of the county attorney,” Abbott concluded in the decision.
Cobern did not immediately return a call for comment.
--- John Council