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Hearing Tuesday March 15th on TX Breeder Bill

(Friday, March 11, 2011)

House Bill 1451 which will define and regulate breeders of dogs and cats will be heard in the House Committee on Licensing and Administrative Procedures on Tuesday, March 15th. Because the author is preparing extensive amendments and plans to introduce a substitute bill, no vote will be taken at this hearing. Responsible dog breeders are encouraged to attend the public hearing or contact the committee and the author’s office with their specific and respectful comments on the bill.

As introduced, HB 1451 defines a commercial breeder as anyone who owns eleven intact female animals (dogs and cats) and is engaged in the business of breeding animals for direct or indirect sale. The bill requires inspections of private property without any proof of animal neglect or cruelty, and breeders will be charged unspecified fees for their license.

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.

House Committee on Licensing and Administrative Procedure Hearing
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
8am
State Capitol Room E2-012

Additional provisions of the bill as drafted include:

  • Requires an annual unannounced inspection of a breeder’s property. The low thresholds in the bill mean that small breeders will be included, many of whom may not have regular business hours. It is unclear what would happen if an inspector arrived and the owner was unavailable.
  • Inspections can be conducted by third-party designees, including local animal control officers and contract employees. Although the bill says the state “may” provide training to these inspectors, it does not mandate it. This creates the possibility that rules may not be equitably applied and that some inspectors may have little to no experience in animal husbandry.
  • Fees are not specified in the bill although the measure says they should cover the cost of establishing an inspections program, possible training for inspectors, and paying for the time and travel necessary to conduct inspections. It is possible that a tiered licensing schedule will be established based on the number of dogs owned, but the cost is likely to be excessive for someone who breeds only a few litters per year.
  • The bill will limit breeders to 50 intact females unless the breeder submits a special application and complies with any additional requirements developed in the regulation process.
  • Requires breeders undergo a criminal background check. AKC believes that it is appropriate to ensure that licenses are not provided to those who have animal cruelty violations, but that including unrelated offenses that have no bearing on the fitness of a dog breeder is unreasonable. This will also be an additional financial burden on the applicant who will likely bear the cost of the background check.
  • Establishes a public database of licensees and disciplinary actions. The thresholds in this bill are so low as to include many breeders who breed 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.
  • Establishes the “Commercial Breeder Enforcement Enhancement & Training Fund” which may offer rewards for information leading to disciplinary action. This incentivizes frivolous reports of insignificant violations and will create a burden for inspectors and for the breeders who must fund the program. The bill does not address who pays the costs if a breeder is found innocent of allegations.
  • Regulations would be written and enforced by the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation. AKC is concerned that none of the commissioners has a background in agriculture or animal husbandry. We believe that it is vital that stakeholders, including responsible breeders, be involved in the drafting of regulations governing responsible animal ownership and breeding.

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