Animal Shelter Regulations

Some of the humane animal shelter regulations which THLN helped establish include:

  • Humane regulations for non-quarantine animal shelters. Prior to 1989, most shelters across the state had no regulations addressing feeding, cleaning, veterinary care, or separation of animals during impoundment as to species, size, or whether an animal was injured or sick. The only regulations in effect were for shelters which quarantined animals for rabies. After THLN became involved, the quarantine shelter regulations (25 Texas Administrative Code §169.26) were extended to include all shelters in counties with populations 75,000 or greater. THLN attempted to extend the regulations to all shelters in counties of any size, but was unable to do so. Later in 2005, THLN was able to extend the regulations to all public shelters, through the rulemaking process, after discovering a statutory provision requiring the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to apply the quarantine rules to all public impound shelters.


  • Dog/Cat Sterilization Act (HB 1226, passed 1993). Before this Act became law, unsterilized animals could be adopted from shelters back out into the community, clearly contributing to the pet overpopulation problem. Now the law requires all dogs and cats to be sterilized before they are adopted from public and private animal shelters. (So far, does not apply to shelters located in counties with populations of 20,000 or less, or municipalities with populations of 10,000 or less. THLN will continue to work to reduce the population bracket so that all shelters are covered.)


  • Humane Euthanasia Act (SB 572/HB 1115, passed in 2003). Prior to this Act, shelters were killing dogs and cats by drowning, shooting, clubbing, strangling and by carbon monoxide poisoning from truck and car exhausts hooked up to makeshift plywood boxes. The law mandated that one of only two methods can be used: sodium pentobarbital injection, or commercially compressed carbon monoxide administered in a commercially built chamber. The law required training for euthanasia technicians.


  • NO MORE GAS CHAMBERS FOR SHELTER DOGS AND CATS! Over 15,000 shelter dogs and cats euthanized by carbon monoxide in 2012. In 2013, THLN was instrumental in the passage of S.B. 360/ H.B. 858, which prohibits the use of carbon monoxide gas as a means of euthanasia in Texas animal shelters, allowing only EBI. When performed properly, euthanasia by injection of sodium pentobarbital is the safest, most humane method, and the least stressful to the animal. Historically, the lack of access to these drugs has been an issue for shelters. But, with only 29 Texas shelters still using the gas chamber as a means for euthanasia, this bill passed without any oppositional votes and signed by Governor Perry on May 10, 2013. Although the law goes into effect immediately, shelters have until January 1, 2014 to come into compliance.


THLN has long sought to address the issue of gas chambers with the DSHS and will continue to work tirelessly toward gas chamber elimination.