Frequently Asked Questions

Animals that are held in the "stray hold" area in a shelter are not allowed to be viewed or photographed by the public. Is this a violation of rights, under Section 1983?

A:

USC §1983 prohibits a governmental entity (including a city animal shelter) from depriving a citizen of a constitutional right.  Federal courts have held that it is a violation of the right of free speech for a shelter to prohibit a person who has gone into a shelter from taking or publishing photos of shelter conditions because this is the same as commenting on shelter conditions which is a form of speech.  The courts have held that a shelter may also not prohibit a person who has published photos from going back into the shelter again because this is retaliation for the person’s exercise of the right of free speech.  These cases dealt people who have gone inside a shelter.  However, we are unaware of any court holding that an animal shelter is required to admit the public into the shelter.  In other words, members of the public do not have a constitutional right to go inside an animal shelter. But once a person is inside a shelter he or she may not be prohibited from taking photos or videos. And the shelter may not selectively exclude people who have taken photos and published them in the past from going back inside the shelter. Under existing case law we think it would be a violation of Section 1983 to prohibit people from bringing cameras or cell phones inside an animal shelter if the public is allowed to go inside the shelter.  As a practical matter, it would take a civil rights lawsuit under Section 1983 to force a shelter to allow admission to a shelter and the taking of photographs.

 

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What does it mean that we are a 501(c)(4) nonprofit?

A:

As a 501(c)(4), we are unique in that we are able to act as a political voice for animals across Texas.  This allows us to engage in unlimited lobbying as it relates to animal welfare.  Please note, because we are a lobbying organization, contributions to the Texas Humane Legislation Network are not tax deductible.

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Do we have the authority to seize animals in distress?

A:

No, we do not have law enforcement powers, therefore we cannot seize animals.  If you believe an animal is being abused or neglected, report the situation to your local law enforcement or municipal animal services agency as soon as possible.

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How do I report animal cruelty?

A:

If you believe animal cruelty is taking place, or has taken place, contact local law enforcement as soon as possible. Be prepared to give details regarding the location, type of animal(s), and date(s) involved. 

To download more information on procedures for reporting animal cruelty click here.

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How do I report dog fighting?

A:

If you suspect dog fighting, call the Dog Fighting Hotline at 1-877-847-4787. The hotline is operated by the Humane Society of the United States and is answered 24/7.

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What is a puppy mill?

A:

A puppy mill is a commercial dog breeding operation where profit takes priority over the health and well-being of the breeding animals and their offspring. Typically, but not always, puppy mills are large scale operations closed to the public. Since the passage of HB 1451, large scale commercial dog breeders (as well as large scale commercial cat breeders) operating in Texas must obtain a license, maintain a standard of care for their animals, and pass periodic inspections. Prior to HB 1451, there was no state law regulating such facilities; thus conditions and treatment of the animals used for breeding in these operations went sight unseen.

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How do I report a puppy mill?

A:

To report a suspected puppy mill, contact the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) at 800-803-9202.  You may file an online complaint for 1) unlicensed activity or 2) code violations by clicking here and selecting Dog or Cat Breeders.

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Does the Texas Humane Legislation Network provide spay/neuter services?

A:

We do not provide spay or neuter services. Since the passage of HB 3250 - commonly known as the Animal Friendly License plate fund - money from the sale of those vanity license plates fund spay/neuter programs across Texas. For more information on affordable spay/neuter programs in Texas, go here.

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Is the Texas Humane Legislation Network No-Kill?

A:

As a practical matter, since we do not operate a shelter, we are not in a position to make decisions regarding the euthanasia of individual animals. From a philosophical standpoint, we believe it is important to work with stakeholders who hold a variety of viewpoints, including shelter managers, animal control officers, rescue groups and veterinarians in order to achieve the best possible outcomes for shelter pets. While some stakeholders have incorporated the term “No-Kill” into their name and branding, others engaged in the same efforts have not while achieving the same results. We are less concerned about the specific name a stakeholder goes by, and more concerned about achieving real protections for shelter pets.

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What are the current Texas Animal Laws?

A:

For all questions regarding current Texas animal laws, please follow the links below:

Current Texas Animal Laws

Laws that Affect Animal Shelters

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What is the Definition of an Animal Friendly License Plate?

What is the definition of Animal Friends license plate?

A:

The state law regarding the Animal Friendly account and how it’s to be used

Sec. 828.014.  ANIMAL FRIENDLY ACCOUNT; DEDICATION. 

(a)  The animal friendly account is a separate account in the general revenue fund.  The account is composed of:

(1)  money deposited to the credit of the account under former Section 502.291, Transportation Code, and under Section 504.605, Transportation Code; and

(2)  gifts, grants, donations, and legislative appropriations.

(b)  The Department of State Health Services administers the account.

(b-1)  The Department of State Health Services may spend money credited to the account or money deposited to the associated trust fund account created under Section 504.6012, Transportation Code, only to:

(1)  make grants to eligible organizations that sterilize animals owned by the general public at minimal or no cost; and

(2)  defray the cost of administering the account.

(c)  The Department of State Health Services  may accept gifts, donations, and grants from any source for the benefit of the account.  The executive commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission  by rule shall establish guidelines for spending money described by Subsection (b-1).

(d)  In this section "eligible organization" means:

(1)  a releasing agency;

(2)  an organization that is qualified as a charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3), Internal Revenue Code, that has as its primary purpose:

(A)  animal welfare;  or

(B)  sterilizing animals owned by the general public at minimal or no cost;  or

(3)  a local nonprofit veterinary medical association that has an established program for sterilizing animals owned by the general public at minimal or no cost.

Instructions on how to get Animal Friendly Grants from the Texas Department of State Health Services

You’ll note that this is an old one and applied to the year 2017.  That said, there probably is a newer one that would apply for the year 2018.  It would be worth your while to call John Stewart who is the contact person for the Health & Human Service Department (shown below) regarding the Animal Friendly License Plates Grants. 

http://dshs.texas.gov/fic/al28-1-3.aspx?terms=how%20to%20apply%20for%20animal%20friendly%20program

Public Funding Opportunities

Animal Friendly Grants

SOURCE: Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), Zoonosis Control Branch APPLICATION DEADLINE: 2/15/17 at 2 pm.

$ AVAILABLE: The total amount of state funding available for the Animal Friendly Grants Sterilization Services for Dogs and Cats is approximately $200,000 and it is DSHS's intention to make multiple awards to eligible respondents. One (1) grant award per project period will be awarded per agency for the sterilization of dogs and/or cats in a minimum of $1,000 and a maximum of $20,000 per contract period. These minimums and maximums may increase or decrease at the sole discretion of DSHS. The maximum amount awarded per agency for the total life of the contract is $40,000. Large requests for state funding may not be fully funded in order to ensure that funds are available for the broadest possible array of communities and programs.

Grants awarded as a result of this RFP will be funded on a cost reimbursement basis. Under the cost reimbursement method of funding, grant recipients are required to finance operations with their own working capital with grant payments made by DSHS to reimburse the grant recipients for actual cash disbursements to be supported by adequate documentation.

ELIGIBILITY: Please see URL for complete eligibility information.

PURPOSE: The Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) on behalf of the Department of State Health Services (DSHS or Department) Zoonosis Control Branch (Program) announces the expected availability of Animal Friendly funding for the State Fiscal year (FY) 2017. This funding is for Spay and Neuter Projects, and to make grants eligible for organizations that sterilize dogs and cats owned by the general public at minimal or no cost.

CFDA: none

CONTACT: John Stewart, (512) 406-2539, email: John.Stewart@hhsc.state.tx.us . For more information see http://esbd.cpa.state.tx.us/bid_show.cfm?bidid=129898

From ESBD web site, accessed 1/11/17icon

Subject(s) animal welfare, veterinary medicine

http://esbd.cpa.state.tx.us/bid_show.cfm?bidid=129898

http://dshs.texas.gov/idcu/health/zoonosis/animal/friendly/faqs/default.asp

Who is eligible to apply for Animal Friendly grants?

A: Eligible applicants are:

1.a private or public releasing agency (animal shelter); 

2.an organization that is qualified as a charitable organization under Section 501c(3), Internal Revenue Code, that has animal welfare or sterilizing dogs and cats owned by the general public at minimal or no cost as its primary purpose; or

3.a local nonprofit veterinary medical association that has an established program for sterilizing animal owned by the general public at minimal or no cost.

 

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How to Search for Licensed Breeders in Texas

Can a 501c3 Lobby?

A:

Yes!  Check out these fact sheets to help you understand how much you can lobby as a non-profit:

 

"Yes, Nonprofits, You Can Lobby"

"When Does Your Activity Become Lobbying?"

"State Lobbying Threshold Fact Sheet"

The IRS Publication - This discusses lobbying by tax-exempt organizations. (The directly applicable part starts on p.45.)

"Influencing Legislation"

 

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