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The Senate Criminal Justice Committee has approved a new substitute version of HB 1451, and this bill is headed to the floor for a vote of the full Senate. It was placed on the intent calendar late today and is eligible to be voted on ANYTIME NOW! It is imperative that Senators hear from their own constituents. Numbers count, so each and every call and email is important.

The committee substitute released Thursday continues to contain unreasonable restrictions on dog breeders and has only very narrow exemptions for specified dog owners. These amendments are not sufficient to protect responsible owners and breeders. The bill does not improve the welfare of dogs in Texas, but could be very harmful to small, responsible dog breeders and owners.

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The Senate Criminal Justice Committee substitute exempts dogs bred to be used exclusively for herding livestock, hunting (including pointing, flushing, or retrieving game) or competing in field trials. AKC does not believe this exemption is effective or adequate, even for the included dogs.

Dogs that participate in field trials or are used for hunting, pointing, flushing or retrieving game are often family pets as well. It is unclear what threshold will qualify a dog as “exclusively” used for these purposes, or who would decide if a dog qualified or not.

The bill continues to require anyone who owns 11 intact females to be licensed as a breeder and subjects them to burdensome regulations, unannounced warrantless searches and high licensure fees. The standards in the bill were drafted without the input of responsible breeders and do not reflect accepted animal husbandry standards. The provision that breeders must be in compliance with USDA standards designed for wholesale commercial kennels would make it virtually impossible for any breeder who raises dogs in their home to comply with this law.

Click here for a detailed list of AKC’s continuing concerns with HB 1451.

Ultimately, legislators are left with the fundamental question of whether there is a need for House Bill 1451. Are there truly significant numbers of irresponsible, large-scale breeders operating in Texas whose behavior cannot be addressed utilizing the current laws? Before expensive new licensing and regulatory schemes are passed, it should be demonstrated that there is a need for such laws and that existing issues cannot be addressed utilizing the current laws.

Current Texas animal cruelty laws provide for the prosecution of irresponsible owners and breeders regardless of how many dogs they own or breed. These laws are correctly based on the condition and treatment of the dogs. We believe that an interim study to investigate this issue would provide a basis for drafting legislation that would offer law enforcement an effective way to address any existing issues without burdening responsible dog owners and breeders.

The Senate Criminal Justice Committee has approved a new substitute version of HB 1451, and this…