URGENT:  Action Needed on Texas Breeder Bills!

URGENT:  Action Needed on Texas Breeder Bills!

Texas House Bill 1451 has been placed back on the Local, Consent and Resolutions Calendar and will be voted on Thursday, April 21. It is essential that responsible owners and breeders call their Representatives and ask that they support the removal of this bill from the calendar. A measure which draws significant opposition in committee testimony and continues to generate opposition from responsible dog-owning Texans and animal welfare groups should be accorded full debate and a vote of the full House of Representatives.

[Sunday, April 10, 2011]

AKC staff has learned that HB 1451 has been placed on the Local, Consent and Resolutions Calendar for Thursday, April 14th. This calendar is for noncontroversial, unopposed bills. It is not reasonable that HB 1451, which had significant opposition in committee, be considered on this calendar. It is crucial that responsible breeders and owners call their Representatives and ask to have this pulled off the calendar for a full vote of the House.

Dear AKC Delegates, Judges, Club Officers and Breeders,

Please forward this information to your club members in Texas as soon as possible.

Two House bills that place unreasonable burdens on responsible Texas dog owners and breeders but do not improve animal welfare made significant progress in the Texas House last week.

House Bill 1451, which would regulate and define as a commercial breeder those who own 11 or more intact female dogs or cats, has been approved by House Committee on Licensing and Administrative Procedures and is now headed to the full House for a vote.

A procedural move to suspend House rules last week to enabled the House County Affairs Committee to hear House Bill 2116, another bill regulating owners and breeders, without notice of a public hearing. Although HB 2116 was left pending in committee, we expect the author to introduce a substitute bill shortly and ask for an immediate vote on this legislation.

Responsible breeders and owners are urged to immediately call or email their representative in the Texas House and ask him or her to oppose HB 1451 and HB 2116.

Click here and type in your address to find the name and contact information for your State Representative.

The American Kennel Club strongly supports humane treatment of dogs, including an adequate and nutritious diet, clean water, clean living conditions, regular veterinary care, kind and responsive human companionship, and training in appropriate behavior. The AKC also supports reasonable and enforceable laws that protect the welfare and health of purebred dogs and do not restrict the rights of breeders and owners who take their responsibilities seriously.

To read the AKC’s letter on House Bill 1451 please click here.

To read the AKC’s letter on House Bill 2116 please click here.

Provisions of House Bill 1451

  • Defines a breeder as anyone who possesses 11 or more intact females. Simply owning a certain number of intact dogs does not indicate a large-scale breeding operation. This definition may encompass many small hobby breeders or sportsmen who produce only one or two litters a year.
  • Mandates an unannounced inspection by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR), or their designee every 18 months. Due to the low thresholds in the bill, many of the breeders who will be licensed are not commercial operations and do not have regular business hours. Often, these people utilize their homes to breed their dogs. The AKC believes that to ensure that privacy and due process rights are protected, inspections, especially of private residences, should be performed pursuant to a warrant. Further, as these inspections are unannounced, it is unclear what would happen if a breeder is not at home when an inspector has gone to the expense of traveling to visit them.
  • Allows TDLR to charge an unspecified fee for licensure and inspection. The measure says fees should cover the cost of establishing and implementing an inspections program. HB 1451 further allows a tiered licensing schedule based on the number of dogs owned, but the cost may be excessive for someone who breeds only a litter or two a year. The fiscal note anticipates that this program will cost over $1.3 million to implement, with the full cost borne by the breeders. If the board’s estimate of one thousand breeders is close to accurate (and we believe this number to be high), then individual licenses are likely to cost thousands of dollars annually.
  • Requires an annual veterinary examination. This is burdensome for breeders in rural areas who have to transport their animals to a veterinarian. It also forces the breeder to spend money on healthy animals when the funds would better be used to care for animals with health concerns and to maintain and improve facilities. Parents are not required to have their children seen by a physician annually, nor are farmers and ranchers whose animals enter our food supply required to have annual veterinary examinations of each animal. This provision is costly and strips owners of their right to decide what care is best for their animals.
  • Establishes a public database of licensees and disciplinary actions. The thresholds in this bill are so low as to include many who breed dogs in their homes. It is unreasonable for a small breeder to be required to post their name, address and other personal information on a public registry.

Provisions of House Bill 2116

  • Prohibits any dog from being left outside and unattended in an enclosure unless at least 150 square feet of space is provided for each dog. This may mean some owners are unable to use existing dog runs or even yards if they do not contain enough square footage. This threshold is arbitrary, not based on any accepted animal husbandry principles and does not take into account a dog’s breed or activity level.
  • Defines a breeder as anyone who possesses 11 or more intact females. Simply owning a certain number of intact dogs does not indicate a large-scale breeding operation. This definition may encompass many small hobby breeders or sportsmen who produce only one or two litters a year.

Directs the Health & Humane Services Commission to promulgate additional regulations for commercial breeders. AKC believes that irresponsible breeders and owners can be successfully addressed using the state’s existing animal cruelty laws. Any additional regulations should be written by officials with extensive animal husbandry knowledge working in consultation with responsible breeders.