This past weekend, the 2023 Texas Regular Legislative Session adjourned. AKC tracked 49 bills this session, and below are updates on significant bills of interest impacting Texas dog owners, trainers, and handlers.
A special session was called and began on May 30. AKC will continue to track newly introduced legislation throughout the special session.
We would like to thank the Responsible Pet Owners Alliance, and all who took the time to attend hearings and contact legislators. We look forward to continue working together to make a difference for dogs in Texas.
We recommend the following actions in the coming months:
1) If you have not yet done so, introduce yourself and your club to state and local lawmakers. You can use the links provided to access our sample introduction letters. Consider inviting lawmakers to your shows and events, CGC evaluations, or any other activities you are doing in your local community.
2) Make sure your club has a Legislative Liaison and that AKC GR has the most up to date contact information. Emailing alerts to your club officers and Legislative Liaisons is the primary way we communicate the latest information to you so you can quickly act. Please contact AKC GR at email@example.com to update your information.
3) If you have not yet done so, consider joining the Responsible Pet Owners Alliance as a club or individual. They are sending out information and updates in addition to those provided by AKC, and also paying for a lobbyist who has been instrumental this session in ensuring access to key members. For more information contact RPOA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updates on Texas Bills of Interest:
For more information on the breeder legislation, view our previous alert.
- House Bill 3587- Mandatory Spay and Neuter
Status: Failed without receiving a committee hearing in the House Public Health Committee
Summary: HB 3587 would have required mandatory spay and neuter for any at large dog that was caught by a releasing agency for a second time in the dog’s lifetime. AKC opposes any legislation that mandates spay and neuter. Spaying/neutering decisions should be made by a dog’s owner in conjunction with their veterinarian. AKC reached out to the sponsor in early 2023 to express our opposition to the bill and it ultimately never received a hearing.
- House Bill 66 and House Bill 2063- Related to Fire Safety Standards for Kennels
Status: HB 66 failed without receiving a committee hearing. HB 2063 was sent to the Governor on May 18 and is pending his consideration.
Summary: In response to the tragic 2021 boarding kennel fire in Georgetown, TX, HB 66 would have required anyone that housed 3 or more dogs to install fire sprinklers and retain 24 hour employees. AKC expressed concerns to the HB 66 bill sponsor and ultimately HB 2063 was filed with positive amendments. HB 2063 requires kennel facility operators (those who are providing boarding services for breeding, sheltering, training, hunting, “or similar purposes” for more than three dogs for compensation) to provide written notice to dog and cat owners if their pet will be left unattended and without a fire sprinkler system. AKC appreciates the sponsor’s willingness to work with us to address our concerns while still accomplishing the legislature’s primary goal to protect dogs during boarding.
- House Bill 4759- Dangerous Dogs
Status: Sent to the Governor, pending his consideration
Summary: HB 4759 makes changes to the Texas dangerous dog laws by expanding the law to deem a dog dangerous if it causes bodily injury. If a dog is deemed dangerous and causes bodily injury it would be a class B misdemeanor. AKC is concerned with the definition of bodily injury because of its broad use of the term physical pain. AKC expressed concerns that a playful animal could be deemed dangerous if it unintentionally caused physical pain to a person. AKC reached out the bill sponsor to clarify her intention with the bill and she committed to changes to the law if it is unfairly applied. Should the bill become law, please let AKC GR know how this law is enforced in your communities to ensure it protects responsible owners.
- House Bill 4164- Misrepresenting Service Animals
Status: Sent to the Governor, pending his consideration
Summary: HB 4164 makes it a misdemeanor to misrepresent a service animal. AKC supported HB 4164 and 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 would penalize those who knowingly misrepresent a service animal in order to gain rights or privileges reserved for those with true service animals.
- House Bill 3756- Civil Immunity when Removing Animals from Vehicles
Status: Passed the House but did not receive a hearing in the Senate State Affairs Committee
Summary: HB 3756 offered liability protections for individuals who remove a domestic animal from a motor vehicle if the person had a good faith and reasonable belief that such removal is necessary to avoid imminent harm to the animal. The American Kennel Club (AKC) expressed concerns that without some clarifications, HB 3756 could lead to negative unintended consequences.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) believes that dog owners bear a special responsibility to their canine companions to provide proper care and humane treatment at all times. No person should leave an animal in a vehicle if its comfort, health, and safety is in question. “Good Samaritan” legislation should provide a balanced approach that protects both the health and safety of dogs and the interests of responsible dog owners.
AKC Government Relations continues to monitor all bills impacting dog owners in Texas. For questions or more information, contact AKC GR at email@example.com.