In June, staff of the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission recommended that the state’s Licensed Breeders Program should be eliminated due to fundamental flaws with the law that created it, the program’s ineffectiveness, and significant operational costs. The Sunset Advisory Commission will meet on Thursday, August 20, to accept testimony on recommendations to eliminate 15 regulatory programs currently managed by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, including the Licensed Breeders Program. The American Kennel Club (AKC) and our Texas federation, the Responsible Pet Owners Alliance (RPOA), encourage all impacted and concerned breeders and owners contact the members of the Sunset Advisory Commission and encourage them to adopt the recommendation to eliminate the Licensed Breeders Program.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) supports reasonable and enforceable laws that protect the welfare and health of dogs and do not restrict the rights of breeders and owners who meet their responsibilities. The AKC expects responsible dog owners and breeders to know, understand, and obey laws that apply to them. Click here to read Issue Analysis: The Value of Responsible Dog Breeders.
In 2011, the Texas Legislature passed and then-Governor Perry signed into law the Dog and Cat Breeders Act. The law’s aim is to regulate those who (1) possesses 11 or more adult intact female animals and (2) who are engaged in the business of breeding those animals for direct or indirect sale or for exchange in return for consideration and (3) who sell or exchange, or offer to sell or exchange, not fewer than 20 animals in a calendar year. The law was designed to be enforced by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR), which created the Licensed Breeders Program to carry out the Act.
TDLR’s programs and practices were recently reviewed as part of its most recent “sunset process”, which regularly evaluates state agencies and programs to see if they are still relevant. The Sunset Advisory Commission’s June 2020 Staff Report recommended that the Licensed Breeders Program is not necessary to protect the public and should be eliminated. The staff’s findings indicate that the Dog and Cat Breeders Act is fundamentally flawed because it provides significant statutory exemptions and unenforceable requirements that undermine both the program’s goals and TDLR’s efforts. Moreover, program revenues have been found to fall far short of funding the administration of the Licensed Breeder Program; yet despite these disproportionately high administrative costs, the Commission found that Texans still primarily rely on other laws that predate the program.
Sunset Advisory Commission Points:
- The Licensed Breeder Program is unnecessary, as other state and federal laws regulate a larger number of breeders and owners. “State law [already] makes cruelty to animals – including failing to provide necessary food, water, care, or shelter – a criminal offense punishable up to a state jail felony, which is appropriate for law enforcement, not a regulatory agency to address.” (Staff report, page 25.) Moreover, the program, duplicates USDA federal standards for breeding animals for sale.
- The Licensed Breeder Program fails to meet expectations. In 2011, when the legislature considered creating the Dog and Cat Breeders Act, proponents of the legislation indicated that more than 1,000 breeders in Texas would be subject to the Act. Throughout its implementation, the actual number of licensees has averaged between 150-170.
- The Licensed Breeder Program’s revenues do not cover administrative costs, as required by law. “A 2018 agency fee study found the program had a 38% cost overrun. Enforcement cases took 307 days to resolve in fiscal year 2019, more than double the average across all TDLR programs.”
- The Act’s narrow focus boosts unlicensed activity. Many types of breeding animals are exempt from state regulation, including any animal used for racing or field competitions, personal use, herding, or hunting. Additionally, because pet sales are often cash transactions and because a breeder can lawfully give away animals without keeping a record, it is almost impossible for TDLR to prove the sale of at least 20 animals per year.
Click here to read the Commissions’ report in full. (The report specifically addresses the Licensed Breeders Program on pages 23-25.)
Take Action Today!
Impacted and concerned breeders and owners are strongly encouraged to:
- First, submit an online comment to the Sunset Advisory Commission in support of the recommended elimination of the Dog and Cat Breeder Act and its Licensed Breeder Program. Use the points, above, to support your recommendation. Go to https://www.sunset.texas.gov/input-form, select “Texas Department Licensing & Regulation” from the dropdown menu, and complete and submit the form.
- Second, email the members of the Sunset Advisory Commission encouraging them to do the same.
Representative Rep. John Cyrier, Chairman – John.firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Dawn Buckingham, Vice-Chair – Dawn.email@example.com
Rep. Terry Canales – Terry.firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Craig Goldman – Craig.email@example.com
Rep. Stan Lambert – Stan.firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Chris Paddie – Chris.email@example.com
Senator Pat Fallon – Pat.firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Bob Hall – Bob.email@example.com
Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. – Eddie.firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Angela Paxton – Angela.email@example.com
Should the Sunset Advisory Commission formally adopt the recommendations, which is tentatively scheduled for September, the Licensed Breeders Program will be included in legislation to eliminate the program that will be considered by the Texas Legislature in its upcoming 2021 regular session.
For more information: