Yesterday, the Texas Senate Business and Commerce Committee approved an amended version of House Bill 1818. As previously reported, this committee substitute is supported by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and other animal interest organizations as a reasonable alternative to the severe impact earlier versions of the bill would have had on both the type of pets and the liberty of Texans to choose the most appropriate pet for their lifestyle.
AKC emphatically supports freedom of choice in selecting a pet. Great pets can come from a variety of sources, including breeders, responsible rescues, and regulated pet shops and shelters. No matter the source, freedom of choice to select the right pet is the crucial first step to pet ownership success. AKC strongly opposes any measure that restricts choice by compelling people and/or retailers to obtain pets solely from shelter or rescue distributors.
WHAT THE NEW VERSION OF HB 1818 DOES:
Committee Substitute HB 1818 provides that Texas pet stores in counties with a population of over 200,000 (which includes over 3/4s of Texas’ population) may source the pets they sell from animal control agencies, animal shelters, animal rescue organizations, and qualified (i.e., licensed, commercia) breeders. Qualified breeders are either (1) Texas breeders licensed under the state’s Dog or Cat Breeders Act (Act), or (2) breeders located in other states that meet the standards for breeders under the Act; hold a license in the state they are located (if required); and hold an appropriate license, or be exempt from licensing, by the USDA under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
CSHB 1818 also requires pet stores to obtain certain assurances from qualified breeders, including care certifications and proof of licensure. Pet stores would also be restricted from obtaining dogs or cats from a qualified breeder if during the preceding four years the breeder’s AWA inspection reports contain a direct or critical violation, a direct no-access violation, or at least three indirect or non-critical violations related to the health and welfare of an animal (not administrative).
Under CSHB 1818, pet stores would be required to maintain certain records and make them available for inspection by an animal control agency or other governmental entity, and to post public signage on the enclosure of each dog or cat for sale that displays the name of the source of the animal.
Pets stores that violate requirements would be subject to civil penalties of up to $500 for each dog or cat sold.
NEXT ACTION STEPS:
The amended bill is next expected to be considered by the full Senate.
First, all Texas dog owners are strongly encouraged to thank Senator José Menéndez for his leadership in amending HB 1818.
Senator José Menéndez – Dist. 26 (San Antonio)
District Phone: 210-733-6604
Capitol Phone: 512-463-0126
Second, Texas residents are urged to contact their Texas state senator to urge support of CSHB 1818. To find out who represents you, go to the Texas Legislature’s Who Represents Me? page and enter your information. Here’s sample email text:
I am a proud Texas resident and urge you to support Committee Substitute HB 1818. Unlike previous versions of the bill, which I oppose, the substitute adopted by the Senate Business and Commerce Committee is a reasonable approach at preserving the quality of Texas pets and protecting the liberty of Texans to choose the most appropriate pet for their lifestyle.
Please support Committee Substitute HB 1818.
Only 10 days remain in the 2021 Texas legislative session. AKC Government Relations (GR) will continue to provide updates on HB 1818 and other pending Texas legislation during this crucial time. For more information, contact AKC GR at firstname.lastname@example.org.