Published by News/Talk 790 KFYO / Julie Fisher
The beginning phases of enforcing a bill intended to reduce the number of puppy mills in the state are under way. The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation is working on determining the standards of HB 1451, a bill that regulates commercial breeding of dogs and cats.
Frequently called the puppy mill bill, HB 1451 is intended to prevent conditions at breeding facilities from degrading into unhealthy and dangerous levels. Puppy mills have long been a problem across the state of Texas, and no legislation existed to regulate breeders who sold directly to the public. Every year hundreds of malnourished, sick animals are confiscated from irresponsible mass breeders. Just this year, sick and dying animals were confiscated from three large puppy mills in Texas.
In an interview with Executive Director of the Texas Humane Legislation Network Monica Hardy, the driving force behind HB 1451, the intentions and applications of the law were outlined. You can listen to the full interview below.
Texas breeders both supported and opposed the legislation. Many breeders were concerned that they would owe large fees for their small breeding operations. Hardy clarified that only facilities with 11 or more breeding females who sell 20 or more offspring a year would be subject to the law. A written exception in the law exempts animals who are intact but not currently being used for breeding purposes, such as show dogs. Hardy also clarified that the bill was specifically written to avoid regulating small-time breeders who have few animals and litters per year.
Hardy did say they met opposition because of the fees that will be imposed on breeders to become licensed by the TDLR. She said fees collected will be low, and will be used to cover operations and trainings of inspectors. A fine will also be imposed on breeders who don’t comply with regulations after an initial inspection. Hardy says responsible breeders really don’t have much to fear when it comes to HB 1451 regulations. Responsible breeders will automatically fit the standards of sufficient shelter, exercise, hygiene and healthcare.
Although many argue that the bill covers regulations that already exist, THLN is insistent that other existing laws only come into play when animal cruelty is already taking place. THLN says the purpose of HB 1451 is to prevent animal cruelty before it starts, in an effort to prevent the pandemic of puppy mills sweeping the state. Hardy says that many breeders support the legislation in hopes that it will clean up the reputation of the animal-breeding community.
A committee entitled the Licensed Breeder Advisory Committee will be formed to outline the specifics of the bill. It will be comprised of nine members: two licensed breeders; two veterinarians; two members who represent Texas animal welfare organizations; two members of the public; and one animal control officer. Committee applications will be accepted through September 15, 2011.
The Texas Human Legislation Network is a statewide non-profit origination that focuses on preventing animal abuse through legislation and promotes animal protection through legislation, education and advocacy. If your interested in helping begin a Lubbock chapter of the THLN, or just want to learn more about the organization, visit THLN.org. You can watch their video on puppy mills here.