The Texas Legislature is entering the final month of session and several dog-related bills continue to move, including some with hearings this week. The final weeks of the 88th Regular Session will see a rapid uptick in bills moving through the legislative process. Please be prepared to take immediate action on legislation because bills can and will move quickly and bills will be amended on short notice.
In addition to the bills regulating breeders, which were mentioned in a previous alert, the following bills of interest would impact Texas dog owners:
Dogs in Cars
Status: Pending vote by full House of Representatives, AKC requesting amendments
HB 3756 and SB 2421 would provide immunity to someone that removes an animal from a vehicle. The immunity is dependent on a person determining there is no reasonable way for the animal to exit the vehicle and a belief that removing the animal is necessary to prevent imminent harm. The person must alert law enforcement and must remain nearby the vehicle until law enforcement arrives. A person must further leave a note on the vehicle that includes their contact information, and the person must inform the owner where the animal is located on this note. A person will not qualify for this immunity if they are directed by law enforcement not to enter the vehicle.
HB 3756 is pending on the General State Calendar for vote before the full House on April 26. AKC appreciates many provisions of this bill, but believes it needs to be clarified to ensure that the person removing the animal must stay in the vicinity with the dog, unless the dog must be taken immediately to a veterinarian. Read AKC’s brief handout on Dogs in Vehicles for more talking points on this issue. Dog owners are encouraged to reach out to your state representative to urge them to amend HB 3756.
Informed Consent Required for Facilities Boarding Dogs
Status: Pending consideration by House, AKC requesting clarifying amendments
HB 2063 would require anyone that houses more than 3 dogs in exchange for pay or other consideration to sign a document informing the owners of the dogs if the facility does not have fire protection systems and if the dogs will be left unattended. This bill is intended to address issues that arose following a Georgetown, TX boarding kennel fire that killed 75 animals.
The bill was voted out of committee and is now pending consideration before the full House. The bill as currently written will apply to those that board dogs for training and breeding purposes. As written, it could potentially apply to anyone that houses more than three dogs if they receive any compensation, and AKC is working with the sponsor to request clarifying amendments to ensure the bill applies specifically to commercial boarding facilities. Those who wish to comment may contact their State Representative.
Status: Pending in the House Public Health and House Criminal Jurisprudence Committees
HB 4759 would make changes to the state’s dangerous dog laws in response to a tragic, fatal dog attack in San Antonio. This bill will deem a dog dangerous if it causes serious bodily injury, leads to transport of a person to a hospital, if a police report is filed or if the owner is arrested. The bill additionally protects the identity of those that make sworn statements that a dog is dangerous. HB 4759 was heard last week in the House Public Health Committee and remains pending in committee.
HB 1653 would increase the penalty for dangerous dog attacks from a Class C misdemeanor to a Class B misdemeanor in the case of second offense. The bill was scheduled for a hearing this week but was removed from the committee agenda.
If you wish to comment on these bills, please submit comments to the House Public Health Committee for HB 4759 and submit comments to the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee for HB 1653.
Misrepresentation of Service Dogs
Status: Pending in the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee
HB 5206 and HB 4164, supported by AKC, would make it a misdemeanor to misrepresent a service animal. Both bills received hearings this month and remain pending in the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee.
The AKC strongly condemns characterizing dogs as service animals when they are not, or attempting to benefit from a dog’s service dog status when the person does not have a disability or need for a service animal. House Bill 4164 and House Bill 5206 would penalize those who knowingly misrepresent a service animal in order to gain rights or privileges reserved for those with true service animals.
Protecting Pet Choice
Status: Pending in the House Business and Industry Committee
Yesterday, HB 3563 was heard in the House Business and Industry Committee. The bill would increase oversight of pet stores while still allowing them to sell dogs sourced from state or USDA licensed dog breeders. AKC supports pet choice and appreciates the committee’s consideration of a bill that protects pet choice and protects the pet buying public.
Our experience has demonstrated that a key factor in the success of a pet with its new owner depends on the pet –regardless of source – being an appropriate fit with the owner’s needs and lifestyle. Treasured pets may be obtained from a variety of sources, including breeders, pet stores, rescues, and local shelters. Finding the right pet to meet a person’s needs and lifestyle also helps address shelter population issues by ensuring that the pet is not later relinquished to a shelter. Those who wish may submit comments on this legislation to the House Business and Industry Committee.
Status: Pending in the House County Affairs Committee
HB 4495 and SB 1962 would allow counties with a population under 50,000 that occurs in certain metropolitan areas to adopt laws requiring the microchipping of all dogs. HB 4495 will be heard on Wednesday, April 26 in the House County Affairs Committee. If you wish to comment, please reach out to the House County Affairs Committee.
Apartment Housing Authorities Pet Fees
Status: Pending in the House Business and Industry Committee
Yesterday the House Business and Industry Committee held a public hearing on HB 1166, which would limit apartment housing authorities from collecting both a pet deposit and a monthly pet rent fee. The bill allows a housing authority to collect either one or the other but not both. The bill only applies to apartments that allow pets and it does not require apartment housing authorities to allow pets. AKC is monitoring this bill, which remains pending in committee for now.
AKC Government Relations continues to monitor all bills impacting dog owners in Texas. For questions or more information, contact AKC GR at firstname.lastname@example.org.