Immediate Help Needed to Oppose Texas BSL

Attention Texas dog owners! Rep. Al Edwards of Houston is sponsoring HB1096, a bill which would...

Attention Texas dog owners! Rep. Al Edwards of Houston is sponsoring HB1096, a bill which would exempt any cities with a population of over 1.9 million from the current state law prohibiting breed-specific legislation. (Currently this includes the City of Houston only, but rapid growth in Dallas and San Antonio means these cities would be included in the near future.) Passage of the bill would immediately permit eligible cities to enact dangerous dog laws that ban or restrict certain breeds. HB1096 passed through the House quickly and has now been referred in the Senate. Help is needed urgently to stop this legislation!

Some dog owners (and indeed even some legislators) have been misled by HB1096 as it does not outrightedly state that populous cities' will be allowed to pass BSL. Instead, the bill reads, "Subchapter D [in existing state law] does not apply to a municipality subject to [HB1096]." Subchapter D in Texas's current law prohibits cities from passing laws that deems dogs dangerous based on their breed. Therefore, HB1096 establishes that cities with populations over 1.9 million would be allowed to enact breed-specific legislation. That threshold could easily be lowered in the future to encompass more and more municipalities.

The American Kennel Club understands legislators' desire to keep communities safe for both people and dogs, and we strongly support reasonable, enforceable dangerous dog laws designed to do just that. In fact, we support strong enforcement of Texas's current dangerous dog statute, which precludes labeling a dog dangerous based on breed alone. Clear guidelines to manage dangerous dogs, public education campaigns about responsible dog ownership, and strong enforcement of leash laws can all help prevent dog bites and other canine–related accidents from occurring. Conversely, banning or restricting certain breeds—as HB1096 permits—will do little to promote public safety.

Texas's current dangerous dog law forces all dog owners to be responsible regardless of the breed they own. Residents will best be protected by stronger enforcement of this law, rather than by passage of the arbitrary, expensive new legislation outlined in HB1096. Please help oppose this misguided measure!
 

What You Can Do:

  • HB1096 will likely be assigned to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, where a companion bill (SB1111) already resides. Dog owners should immediately contact the committee members below, as well as their own Senators and Representatives, and ask them to oppose both HB1096 and SB1111. Your voice is especially important if you are a constituent of a committee member!

 

Senate Committee on Criminal Justice:
PO Box 12068
Capitol Station
Austin, TX 78711

Clerk: Carley Rose, Ph: (512) 463-0345


Senate Criminal Justice Committee members:
Chair: Senator John Whitmire
Ph: (512) 463-0115
Fax: (512) 475-3737
john.whitmire@senate.state.tx.us


Vice-Chair: Senator Kel Seliger
Ph: (512) 463-0131
Fax: (512) 475-3733
kel.seliger@senate.state.tx.us


Senator John Carona
Ph: (512) 463-0116
Fax: (512) 463-3135
john.carona@senate.state.tx.us


Senator Rodney Ellis
Ph: (512) 463-0113
Fax: (512) 463-0006
rodney.ellis@senate.state.tx.us


Senator Juan Hinojosa
Ph: (512) 463-0120
Fax: (512) 463-0229
juan.hinojosa@senate.state.tx.us


Senator Steve Ogden
Ph: (512) 463-0105
Fax: (512) 463-5713
steve.ogden@senate.state.tx.us


Senator Tommy Williams
Ph: (512) 463-0104
Fax: (512) 463-6373
tommy.williams@senate.state.tx.us


Texas dog owners should also contact Rep. Al Edwards (sponsor of HB1096) and Senator Rodney Ellis (sponsor of SB1111) immediately to express their concerns regarding these bills.


Rep. Al Edwards
Texas House of Representatives
Room CAP 1N.08
P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
(512) 463-0518
(512) 463-5896 Fax


Senator Rodney Ellis
Texas State Senate
PO Box 12068
Capitol Station
Austin, TX 78711
512-463-0113
512 463-0006 (Fax)


Points to Consider:

  • Breed-specific laws are unfair to responsible owners of the restricted breeds. Deeds, not breeds, should be the determining factor.
     
  • TX state law prohibits determining a dog dangerous based on breed alone. HB1096 violates existing state law.
     
  • TX has a good dangerous dog law in place—the key to solving dangerous dog problems is not to pass arbitrary new restrictions but to enforce the existing law.
     
  • Strongly enforced dangerous dogs laws—like the existing TX state law—will force all owners to be responsible, regardless of what breed they own.
     
  • Breed-specific laws increase costs for the community. Administrative costs, enforcement costs, and shelter costs will increase under HB1096.
     
  • Countless national animal organizations—American Kennel Club, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, National Animal Control Association, National Animal Interest Alliance, and others—oppose breed-specific legislation because they know it simply doesn't work. No animal welfare group supports these bills.

 

For more information, contact:

Responsible Pet Owners Alliance
http://www.responsiblepetowners.org
Mary Beth Duerler
rpoa@texas.net
210-738-2273

AKC’s Canine Legislation department
919-816-3720
doglaw@akc.org