Originally Published in: The Dallas Morning News
Published on: April 7, 2013
Written By: dallasnews Administrator
AUSTIN — Shelter dogs wouldn’t die in gas chambers, more sharks could keep their fins, and pets would be protected from stalkers and domestic violence under proposals by Texas lawmakers aiming to protect creatures great and small.
Many of the bills, sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats, have been well received in the House and Senate, with no lawmakers registering their opposition and plenty of time to make their way to the governor’s desk.
“The Legislature did everything we wanted them to do last session,” said Skip Trimble, co-chairman of the legislative committee for the Texas Humane Legislation Network in Dallas. “Our job now is to educate the licensing agency that makes the rules.”
A proposal by Seguin Republican Rep. John Kuempel appeared to target breeders, generating fireworks among those who futilely fought the puppy mill bill two years ago.
One bill that appears to be moving quickly is a ban on carbon monoxide gas chambers at animal shelters. National studies have shown they cause animals to suffer, as not all die from the poison.
The Senate passed the ban with no opposition, and a House committee approved it unanimously as well. It awaits scheduling for a vote by the full House.
Dallas Republican Rep. Jason Villalba, one of the co-sponsors, said that while he comes from “a long line of animal lovers,” his decision to sign on to the bill came from a pint-sized lobbyist who won him over on a visit to Austin.
Addison Higgins, 9, of Dallas, grew up with her dog, Jake. But when Jake was 13, he got sick and had to be euthanized.
Addison understood that he was given a shot that “helped him not to be scared” during the process, said her mother, Amy Higgins.
So when Addison and her mom met with Villalba, she told him about how it’s the only humane option for euthanizing homeless pets, too.
“I don’t think it’s fair, because dogs and cats get really scared and all,” Addison said. “They get scared because they’re in tight spaces, and many animals get put in at the same time. There’s two ways you can do it. There’s a shot and then there’s the gassing, but we don’t want to do the gassing anymore.”
Said Villalba, noting he has two daughters: “She melted my heart.”
Addison’s mom was law school roommates with Trimble’s co-chair, Shelby Bobosky, and learned from her about the effort to ban the chambers.
Her daughter thought the legislation was a good idea, so instead of simply calling her lawmaker’s office, the pair met with him in person.
“It was a wonderful experience for Addison,” she said. “It was really important to me to introduce her to the political process early. She loves animals, and it’s something that she saw she could do something about.