Emily Heidt

  • THLN featured in Progress Times

    Originally Published in: Progress Times
    Published on: 
    November 07, 2023
    Written By: Maria Ruiz

    Texas Humane Legislative Network to propose animal advocacy chapter in RGV


    Monday, the Texas Humane Legislative Network (THLN) will meet with local animal organizations at the McAllen Library to propose a chapter for animal welfare advocacy in the Rio Grande Valley. With administrations across Texas, THLN works to bring awareness to statewide and nationwide animal issues.

    Shelby Bobosky, Executive Director of the Texas Humane Legislation Network, said that THLN promotes legislation and advocacy for the humane treatment of animals.

    “We are the only Texas organization focusing on addressing animal welfare laws in the state,” said Bobosky, a Dallas native. “We are a 501(c)4, but we also have a 501(c)3 organization called the Texas Humane Network. The mission of the 501(c)3 is to promote the humane treatment of animals through education and training…the (c)4 passes the laws, and the (c)3 educates on the laws.”

    Primarily volunteer-based, the organization has chapters in Austin, Tyler, El Paso, Houston, and Wichita Falls with dedicated supporters. According to Bobosky, local chapters “get political for animals.”

    “Not only can they serve as a voice at the Texas Capitol, but they also can be the voice of thousands of animal welfare policies at a local level,” Bobosky said.

    The THLN Executive Director said the organization is exploring and bringing a chapter to the Valley but says it is up to the citizens if it takes root.

    Earlier this year, there was a humane lobby in Austin at the state capitol, where Bobosky and the THLN team saw an influx of animal rights activists from the Valley.

    “I was incredibly impressed that so many animal lovers, advocates, and rescuers all came up from RGV to be a part of this lobby day,” said Bobosky. “That is where the idea copulated.”

    The meeting discusses the logistics of a chapter and informs the public on recently passed animal laws and how they affect the community.

    “The point is to educate on the new laws and really serve as a Q&A for questions related to animal laws,” Bobosky said.

    Issues, such as puppies sold at pet stores, will be a roundtable topic at the meeting. The discussion of this topic comes a week after animal advocates protested against the Paws Paradise pet store in McAllen on October 28, 2023.

    “In 2025, we plan to help support a bill that we feel will end cruel puppy mill practices in other states and truly slow down and, or, stop the puppy mill pipeline in Texas,” Bobosky passionately stated. “Many retail pet stores that are selling puppies in Texas force those puppies and kittens from out-of-state puppy mills.”

    THLN recommends adopting or rescuing shelter animals or finding a responsible breeder if one is looking for a specific breed of cat or dog.

    If cities adopt animal advocacy chapters, elected officials may provide proper funding to local shelters with overpopulation and handle issues such as animal cruelty  through increased education and awareness.

    “We serve as a guide, but if the local elected officials want to hear from their constituents, then THLN employs in other areas. So, we think that RGV is right for a chapter, and we hope to facilitate one.”

    Read the Full Article Here. 

  • 2022: Big Cat Public Safety Act


    The Big Cat Public Safety Act was enacted December 20, 2022, to end the private ownership of big cats as pets and prohibit exhibitors from allowing public contact with big cats, including cubs.

    It placed new restrictions on the commerce, breeding, possession, and use of certain big cat species. In order to continue to legally possess privately owned big cats, the Act required individuals or entities to register any big cat(s) that were in their possession before the date of enactment with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), unless another exception of the Act applies. This registration had to occur no later than June 18, 2023, which was 180 days after the date of enactment.  Now that registration is closed, click here to find the document that gives guidance for enforcement of the BCPSA.

    Learn More About Guidance of Enforcement

  • The History of the Texas Dog or Cat Breeder Act


    In 2011, the Texas Humane Legislation Network was instrumental in passing HB 1451, which licenses and regulates large-scale commercial dog and cat breeders.

    The Dog and Cat Breeder Act provides basic protections for tens of thousands of dogs and cats confined and raised in large-scale breeding facilities by requiring humane housing and care standards and needed veterinary care.  The law is administered and enforced by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation and requires periodic inspections and annual veterinary care. 

    THLN's 2011 Victory

    THLN knew that federal dog and cat breeding regulation was too broad and left too many loopholes in which unscrupulous breeders could evade regulation. Specifically, THLN fought hard to regulate large-scale commercial dog breeding operations that placed profit over the well-being of its animals. In 2011, The Texas Dog or Cat Breeder Act (also known as HB 1451) enabled regulation to ensure that facilities that breed dogs and cats for sale in Texas provide a minimum standard of care for their animals. It acknowledged that many commercial breeding facilities do not provide adequate and humane care for the animals they are breeding and often fail to keep animals properly sheltered or to provide adequate veterinary attention.

    During its 2011 session, the 82nd Texas legislature passed HB 1451 in the Texas House and Senate, and Governor Rick Perry signed the bill into law on June 17, 2011. The Act requires a person acting as a dog or cat breeder to obtain licensure by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR).

    Senate Bill 876 – THLN Strengthens the Texas Dog or Cat Breeders Act 

    In the 2023 Legislative Session, THLN helped strengthen the Texas Dog or Cat Breeders Act.  While the 2011 law successfully prevented animal cruelty at licensed facilities, loopholes allowed numerous large-scale breeders to avoid inspections and meet basic standards of care, by 2023, it was clear: the Texas Licensed Breeders Law needed reform to regulate commercial breeders masquerading as hobbyists.

    SB 876 requires breeders with five or more breeding females to be licensed. Previously, only breeders with eleven or more breeding females were regulated, which meant a large swath of the industry went sight unseen. According to a Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) study, unlicensed breeding facilities are responsible for the majority of cruelty and neglect complaints.  SB 876 also removes the need to prove a breeder sold 20 or more animals in a calendar year. Many breeders conduct cash-only sales, which are untraceable. By removing the “proof of sales” requirement, SB 876 closes a significant loophole that allowed commercial breeders to evade accountability. This legislation will effectuate change for thousands of animals across the state and allow the Texas Licensed Breeders Law to oversee the industry as originally intended.

    SB 876 was authored by Representative Brad Buckley and co-authored by Senator Pete Flores and Senator John Whitmire. SB 876 is effective September 1, 2023, and breeders with five or more breeding females must be licensed by January 1, 2024.

    UPDATE:  Between now and January 1, 2024, THLN needs YOU to ensure the rules associated with these changes to the Texas Dog or Cat Breeders Act do not allow loopholes for breeders to avoid licensure.  STAY TUNED and continue looking for additional updates throughout the rule-making process!

    About the Legislation

    HB 1451 The Dog and Cat Breeder Act

    Bill Caption: Relating to the licensing and regulation of certain dog and cat breeders; providing penalties. Effective Immediately on: June 17, 2011 Authors: Thompson | Pitts | Rodriguez, Eddie | Lucio III | Branch Coauthors: Hartnett | Johnson | King, Phil | Laubenberg | MarquezSponsor: Whitmire
    Cosponsor: Ellis

    Read more about this bill


    What is Dog or Cat Breeding?

    There is no Texas statute or rule that specifically defines “breeding.” However, you can infer by the collective definitions found in the licensed breeder statutes and rules that “breeding” means the practice of mating selected dogs with the intent to maintain or produce specific qualities and characteristics in order to sell the offspring for commercial purposes.


    Who must be licensed?

    Anyone who has 11 or more adult intact female dogs and /or cats and who sells or offers to sell 20 or more dogs or cats in a calendar year must be licensed. The law provides exemptions for certain types of dog breeding, including dogs, bred for herding livestock, hunting, or competing in field trials.

    Are there different license types?
    No. Breeder licenses are required for each facility. According to Tex. Occ. Code § 802.153(c):

    A licensed breeder that has more than one facility shall: 
    1. keep separate records for each facility; and 
    2. submit a separate accounting of animals for each facility.”

    How is a Breeder Defined?

    *A “breeder” is defined as a person who (1) possesses five or more adult intact female animals; and (2) is engaged in the business of breeding those animals for direct or indirect sale or for exchange in return for consideration. *See Tex. Occ. Code § 802.001(8) and 16 Tex. Admin. Code § 91.10(8)

    Those who need a breeder’s license are those who meet the definition of a breeder or who hold themselves out to be a breeder is required to be licensed. Specifically, Tex. Occ. Code § 802.101(a) states: “A person may not act as, offer to act as, or represent that the person is a dog or cat breeder in this state unless the person holds a license under this chapter for each facility that the person owns or operates in this state. A license for a single facility may cover more than one building on the same premises.”

    The TDLR shall issue a license to each dog or cat breeder who:
    1. meets the requirements of this chapter and rules adopted under this chapter; 
    2. applies* to the department on the form prescribed by the department; and 
    3. pays the required fee ($300 - Licensed Breeder 25 or less intact females and $500 – Licensed Breeder 26 or more intact females). 

    Texas Law Specifies the Responsibilities and Standards of Care for Dog and Cat Breeders

    Licensed Breeder Responsibilities

    • Timely license renewal annually;
    • Prominently display a copy of the license at the breeder’s facility; 
    • Maintain a copy of the breeders’ rules at each facility;
    • Include the license number in each advertisement of the licensed breeder, and may not engage in false, misleading, or deceptive advertising;
    • Include in each contract for the sale or transfer of an animal by the licensed breeder: the license number and the following statement: “Dog and cat breeders are regulated by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, P.O. Box 12157, Austin, Texas 78711, 1-800-803-9202, 512-463-6599, www.tdlr.texas.gov”;
    • Submit an annual inventory, giving an accounting of all animals held at the facility at any time during the preceding calendar year for each facility;
    • Maintain a separate record for each animal in the breeder’s facility documenting the animal’s care, and these records must be on file at the licensed facility for at least two years; and
    • Ensure that each breeding facility follows all standards of care the department sets.

    What are the basic standards of care required by Texas Law?

    Title 16 sections 91.100–.113 of the Texas Administrative Code provide comprehensive rules that regulate the standards of care for:

    • indoor, outdoor, and sheltered housing facilities,
    • primary enclosures, 
    • compatible grouping of animals, 
    • exercise for dogs, 
    • feeding and watering of the animals, 
    • cleaning, sanitation, housekeeping, pest control, onsite personnel, grooming, veterinary care, sales, and
    • transfers.

    Failure to abide by these rules may result in administrative penalties, including fines, suspension, revocation, or both.

    Ongoing Enforcement of Dog and Cat Breeders in Texas

    Enforcement and Activity

    The TDLR derives its authority to enforce license breeder regulation from the Texas Administrative Code, chapters 51 and 802, and associated rules. If a person violates Chapter 802 or a rule adopted under it, they are subject to any action or penalty under subchapter F or G of Chapter 51.99. In addition, the TDLR has the right to enter the premises of a licensed breeder to conduct complaint-driven investigations and periodic compliance inspections.*

    See Tex. Occ. Code §§ 51.351, 802.062 and 802.063.101


    Inspections and Investigations

    Once an applicant applies and pays, TDLR will conduct a pre-license inspection, conducted by TDLR Field Operations to ensure the facility complies with TDLR standards.

    After a license is issued to a breeder, inspectors conduct periodic inspections at least once every 18 months (16 Tex. Admin. Code § 91.52(a)).  

    Because of the newness of the program, the majority of our cases are complaint-driven. The Department is required to investigate each complaint. As more individuals are required to become licensed, more complaints arise.  

    During our investigations and inspections, we are looking whether the facility requires a license and if so, are TDLR safety and sanitation laws and rules are being followed. The Department is also looking for any signs of animal cruelty and neglect. In such cases, this information is forwarded to adequate authorities (criminal investigators).


    Periodic Inspections

    Periodic inspections every eighteen months. During the inspection, the inspector examines the facility to ensure animal health.  Specifically, the inspector looks for disease, sickness, visible injury, and adequate grooming. The inspector also ensures sanitation standards, such as cleanliness, sufficient food, and linen storage, and that the applicant adheres to proper waste disposal and insect treatment at the breeding facility. Further, the inspector ensures the facility’s housing and transportation requirements, including animal measurement, space requirement, kennel safety, proper heating and cooling, ground cover, adequate shade, access to food and clean water, and kennel population, are in compliance with TDLR standards.

    See 16 TEX. ADMIN. CODE § 91.52

    Out of Cycle Inspections

    In addition, after the periodic inspection, the inspector may find that the licensee is subject to out-of-cycle inspections. These additional inspections become necessary to ensure facility compliance with serious or repeated violations. Specifically, if the periodic inspection reveals a serious or repeated violation relating to sanitation violations or failure to timely remedy violations documented during periodic inspections, investigations, or commission orders, the facility will be inspected twice a year. Moreover, if there are repeated or serious violations related to shelter, food, water, and medical treatment or examinations, the facility will be inspected four times each year. If an inspector determines that a licensee is subject to out-of-cycle inspections, TDLR will notify the owner in writing if the facility becomes subject to out-of-cycle inspections and the scheduled frequency of inspections.

    See 16 Tex. Admin. Code § 91.53 

    Onsite Duty to Report Animal Cruelty

    Texas Penal Code § 42.092 (cruelty to a non-livestock animal) is a Class A Misdemeanor.

    TDLR Inspectors/Investigators are required to report all animal cruelty violations within 24 hours to local law enforcement. § 802.064

    It is advised to take photographs, write a detailed report, and turn it over to the local authorities.

    Field Operations Division

    Responsible for conducting pre-license, periodic, and out-of-cycle inspections. 

    20 inspectors in the division

    4 of the inspectors are assigned to the BRE program

    146 licensees in Fiscal Year 2014

    Most Common Violations include:

    • 1. Standards of Care—Primary Enclosure, 16 Tex. Admin. Code Ch. 91, § 91.104(1)(A). Failure to be designed and constructed of suitable materials so that they are structurally sound. 
    • 2. Standards of Care—Primary Enclosure, 16 Tex. Admin. Code Ch. 91, § 91.104(1)(B). Failure to properly maintain a primary enclosure so that it is suitable, safe, and secure for a dog or cat.
    • 3. Standards of Care—Housing Generally, 16 Tex. Admin. Code Ch. 91, § 91.100(3)(B). Surfaces. All surfaces must be maintained on a regular basis. Surfaces must be replaced when worn or soiled.
    • 4. Standards of Care—Housing Generally, 16 Tex. Admin. Code Ch. 91, § 91.100(1). Structure; construction. Housing facilities for dogs and cats must be designed and constructed so that they are structurally sound. They must be kept in good repair, and they must protect the animals from injury, contain the animals securely, and restrict other animals from entering.


    After the inspection or investigation is complete, the inspector or investigator submits a detailed report of the facts to the prosecuting attorney. The attorney then proceeds, as described below to determine the appropriate resolution of the case. 

    In all cases, the prosecutor decides how the case will be resolved. If the prosecutor determines that formal enforcement action is not warranted due to insufficient evidence or other reasons, they will close the case informally by issuing a closing letter. They may also give a warning letter to the respondent, recommending that they come into compliance with the applicable law. 

    To proceed with formal enforcement action, the prosecutor issues a Notice of Alleged Violation (NOAV) seeking administrative penalties and possible sanctions against the respondent’s license. An administrative penalty is a monetary fine paid by the respondent to the State of Texas. A sanction is an action upon the respondent’s license and may include suspension, probation, a written reprimand, or outright revocation of the license. Administrative penalties and sanctions applicable to specific violations within each TDLR program are reflected in the TDLR Enforcement Plan.


  • Roadside Sales of Live Animals 

    Roadside sales of dogs and cats occur on the side of the road and parking lots. These sales rely on “impulse buying" without regard to the follow-through care animals need. Sellers offer no guidelines about needed care or problems with some breeds. Additionally, because the sellers “are here today, gone tomorrow,” there is no recourse available for dissatisfied customers while being able to skirt specific tax laws.

    At least five states (California, Nevada, Virginia, Illinois, and Nebraska) have state laws that regulate roadside sale of animals in some way. Some laws enact comprehensive restrictions, while others are limited to specific animals or impose only procedural requirements.

    Dubbed as the Puppy Mill on Wheels, this criminal has been selling puppies all over Houston and Harris County, but he is hard to catch and makes a quick getaway once authorities are notified.

    Due to the lack of government oversight, many animals sold on the side of the road or in parking lots experience poor living conditions and receive inadequate care. Unlicensed and irresponsible breeders typically conduct roadside sales. Dogs and cats are often kept outside without water in hot temperatures, confined in small cages, and stored like warehouse items. Unregulated breeding and unsanitary practices in transporting, displaying, and selling these animals result in high, unmet needs for veterinary care. As a result, these animals can be rife with disease while spreading zoonotic diseases. 

    THLN opposes the roadside sale of animals because of their reported inhumane treatment of animals. Common complaints include animals being kept in cramped spaces, lacking water and food even in hot climates, and animals too young to be weaned and sold apart from their mothers. Many dogs and cats are not vaccinated and suffer from fleas, mange, worms, and other diseases. Many animals are soon turned over to shelters because owners have a change of heart or cannot care for a sick animal, which increases costs to the local government.

    The increasing popularity of roadside sales of dogs and cats also creates various safety issues. Pedestrian traffic on the roadside, as well as the frequent stops of vehicular traffic, can be very dangerous. These vendors can create traffic and other safety issues while encroaching on rights-of-way.

    Some states prohibit the sale of animals on streets, highways, and boardwalks. See, e.g., CAL. PENAL CODE § 597.4 (West). In other words, they prohibit the sale of animals in public spaces. 

    Laws About Roadside Sales of Live Animals in Texas

    Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio ban roadside sales of dogs and cats.

    However, sellers go to the counties next to these cities; therefore, a statewide ban is necessary. Many of these are not from Texas but from surrounding states due to the lax requirements on dogs and cats being transferred into the state to sell the animals.

    Puppies being sold in a parking lot in Montgomery County, Texas, where is it legal to sell puppies.

    In 2007, THLN worked on SB 254, which helped tighten up regulations governing roadside sales of live animals.

    Before 2007, commissioners' courts in counties with a population of 2.2 million or more were authorized to regulate the sale of animals on a public highway or road, in the right-of-way of a public street or roadway, or a parking lot in the unincorporated area of the county. Through THLN's efforts, the size of the county to which this law applies was reduced from 2.2 to 1.3 million or more, which gives smaller counties like Bexar and Tarrant the authority to regulate these activities.

    Learn more about this Victory

    Brenda Roberts, left, and Russell Clements of Porter, Texas, set up shop on FM 1960 (Montgomery County, Texas, where roadside sales are not banned).

    Unfortunately, in 2011 a significant roadside sales ban was vetoed.

    HB 1768 allowed counties with a population greater than 450,000 to adopt ordinances to regulate the sale of animals (other than livestock). However, if the county’s population exceeds 3.3 million, then the county may regulate the roadside sale of all animals. The authors of the bill were Rep. Sergio Munoz and Senator Chuy Hinojosa. The bill, unfortunately, was vetoed by Governor Perry.

    Dubbed as the Puppy Mill on Wheels, this criminal has been selling puppies all over Houston and Harris County, but he is hard to catch and makes a quick getaway once authorities are notified.

    Since 2011’s veto, three other attempts at roadside sales bills were filed but did not pass: HB 2094 by Rep. Munoz, Jr. in 2015, HB 2309 by Rep. Metcalf in 2017, and HB 1107 by Rep. Reynolds in 2019.

    Currently, a statewide roadside sales ban is necessary because of the passage of HB 2127 in 2023. HB 2127 amends Chapter 229 of the Texas Local Government Code by prohibiting municipalities from adopting or enforcing regulations concerning “the breeding, care, treatment, or sale of animals or animal products, including a veterinary practice, or the business’s transactions if the person operating that business holds a license for the business that is issued by the federal government or a state.” While HB 2127 bars local government from passing future ordinances of this type, roadside sales ordinances adopted before April 1, 2023, remain enforceable until a statewide law regulating the ban of roadside sales is passed.  


    What can you do to stop the sale of animals in parking lots and along the road? 

    • Safely take pictures that are date stamped to include license plates, animals, and the price of animals being sold. Do not attempt to address the person[s] on your own.
    • Notify the police, code compliance, or animal services if they are within the vicinity (especially if they are in a dangerous location to attract attention).
    • Notify the businesses where the animals are being sold.
      • Notify the store managers;
      • Ask if their security can ask the vendor to be removed.


  • THLN featured in Hill Country Community Journal

    Originally Published in: Hill Country Community Journal
    Published on: 
    September 30, 2023
    Written By:Rosa Lavender


    Kerrville Pets Alive hosted a workshop last week to educate the community on several new laws passed in the most recent session of the Texas Legislature and signed by Governor Abbott related to more humane treatment of animals. The new laws went into effect Sept. 1.

    Approximately 60 people were in attendance, including law enforcement (deputy constables in the animal services department), several elected officials, and the students in the pre-veterinary program at Schreiner University.

    The workshop presenter was Shelby Bobosky, Executive Director of the Texas Humane  Legislation Network whose mission is to promote the humane treatment of animals through legislation and advocacy.

    “I made clear to Shelby that our workshop was to be educational and not a political event,” said Karen Guerriero, president of Kerrville Pets Alive.

    Bobosky defined for those in attendance some of the Texas laws dealing with animal cruelty, hoarding of animals and whether leaving a dog in a hot car was illegal under Texas law. She also provided information about people who are animal abusers who later become violent with humans.

    Under current Texas law abandoning an animal is not considered animal cruelty, nor is hoarding considered animal cruelty, according to Bobosky. Each of these issues becomes a civil issue and the case usually goes to a justice of the peace or municipal court judge to determine action to be taken.

    If an animal that is confined inside a hot car is in immediate danger, a peace officer can remove it from a car, but a concerned citizen does not have the authority to do it. The person who calls law enforcement to the scene under Section 42.092 of the Texas Government Code will have to prove “cruelty.”

    Animal cruelty can also lead to more serious crimes later in life.

    “In the 2022 Robb Elementary school shooting in Uvalde, the perpetrator previously committed animal abuse and displayed videos of the cruelty to users on social media platforms. He allegedly boasted about how he and his friends ‘did it all the time.’ There was a graphic video showing him sitting in a car holding a clear bag with two dead cats inside. He’s grinning and shows no remorse while he’s holding the dead cats,” Bobosky said.

    Bobosky provided a report on the laws passed by the Texas Legislature earlier this year that dealt with animal issues. Three of the four laws went into effect on Sept. 1, but the fourth ws declared unconstitutional by a Texas court.

    Senate Bill 876/House Bill 2238, known as the “Puppy Mill Law,” addresses breeding facilities around the state. Texas has about 150 licensed large-scale dog and cat breeders and an estimated 400 non-licensed facilities. The Puppy Mill Law reduces the number of breeding females and does away with law on the number of puppies that can be sold in a year. The new law says a breeder can have no more than five breeding females and does away with the sales limit totally. The law provides a grace period for breeders until Jan. 1, 2024, to allow them time to come into compliance with the new law.

    HB 598 Provides for a five-year ban on ownership of a cat or dog after a person has been convicted of animal cruelty. It closes a significant gap in Texas law to prevent future violence by disrupting the offender’s access to animals for a significant, but not open-ended, period of time.

    Senate Bill 4164, known as the “Service Dog Bill” addresses an issue that has developed in recent years after as sharp increase in the number of non-disabled people represent their pet dogs as service animals so their pets can accompany them in public spaces. The incidents of pet dogs distracting and attacking service animals have diminished the quality of life for disabled people who rely on service animals to navigate daily life. The Service Dog Bill increases the penalty for falsely representing pets as trained service animals and increases the fine for doing so from $300 to $1,000. The offender may also be required to perform 30 hours of community service for an organization serving persons with disabilities.

    The last bill passed by the Texas Legislature, HB3360/SB1682, was ruled as unconstitutional. The bill provided an exception to the animal cruelty laws for persons who trap feral cats, to transport them to a veterinarian clinic for spay/neuter and vaccinations, which includes tipping the ear of the cat as a sign they have been treated.

    According to Bobosky, professionals involved with animal cruelty investigations or assisting victims of family violence understand these actions are often linked and the various agencies and organizations are working with the same families.

    Guerriero pointed out that the workshop supported what many advocacy groups already knew, how difficult it is to prove animal cruelty in Texas.

    “The laws are the problem. It’s very difficult to go down that path because it begins to fizzle,” Guerriero said.

    216th District Attorney Lucy Wilke, who attended the event, agreed that the laws need to be clarified by the state and agreed that it was hard to prosecute cases in court. Wilke said lack of information and people recanting their story were major obstacles in prosecuting animal cruelty cases, and that most animal cruelty cases are misdemeanor offenses.

    Three rescue groups were also present for the presentation, including Warrior’s Heart from Bandera that works with animals to become service dogs for veterans. Freeman Fritts Animal Shelter and the Big Fix project also had people at the workshop.

    Guerriero described the video that Bobosky showed about animal cruelty cases and the history of school shooting that had a link back to animal abuse in the past. The incidence of dumping animals is also a major issue locally for animal control officers and local rescue organizations.

    “Our goal in hosting this event is to bring all the entities in the community together who deal with all levels of abuse, elderly, spousal, family, child and animal abuse. We want to bring everyone to the table to discuss and share the information of how abuse is often linked together with other incidents,” Guerriero added.

    The National Link Coalition which keeps statistics on animal cruelty cases linked to other more serious violence provide the data that the median age that animal cruelty in early childhood begins at age 6  1/2, and animal cruelty acts by children are an indicator that the child is a risk to themselves or to others.

    The Texas Human Legislation Network is the only organization of its type in the state of Texas and has been the “mainstream voice for animals in Texas” since 1975. One of the group’s biggest accomplishments was to pass legislation in 1997 that created an “animal friendly” fund for the state through the sale of specialty license plates that has raised millions in funding to be used to help municipalities with the overpopulation crisis by covering low cost spay/neuter surgeries.


    2023 Federal Legislative Priorities:


    Important animal welfare conversations are happening across the United States. On this page, you can read more about our current animal-focused Federal Legislative Priorities.

    Be sure to sign up for email notifications so you can take action when the time comes. 

    Sign up for Action Alerts

    H.R. 2742 - Fight Inhumane Gambling and High-Risk Animal Trafficking (FIGHT)
    H.R. 1624 - The Puppy Protection Act
    H.R. 1788 - Goldie's Act
    H.R. 3475 - Save America's Forgotten Equines Act (SAFE)
    H.R. 3709 - Microchip Funding
    H.R. 3957 - Providing of Unhoused People with Pets Act (PUPP)


    Fight Inhumane Gambling and High-Risk Animal Trafficking (FIGHT)

    Act H.R. 2742, known as the Fight Inhumane Gambling and High-Risk Animal Trafficking (FIGHT) Act is a high priority for THLN. This bipartisan bill aims to crack down on illegal cockfighting and dogfighting by banning simulcasting of fights, stopping the shipment of animals to fighting operations, allowing citizens to sue animal fighters, and enhancing law enforcement’s ability to seize valuable assets.


    Although rooster and dog fighting are illegal in all US states and territories, the advent of simulcasting has allowed the global animal-fighting industry to flourish. Cockfighting thrives in Southeast Asia, as well as in Mexico. Currently, it is not illegal for US spectators to watch or place bets on live and recorded animal fights staged abroad.

    In addition to profits from gambling on simulcast fights, cockfighting enthusiasts profit from breeding and shipping animals, particularly roosters, across the globe. Neighboring state Oklahoma, considered the cockfighting capital of the US, shipped over 5,100 roosters to Guam between 2019 and 2022.

    Despite the fact cockfighting is a felony punishable by jail time in Texas, the practice persists right here in the Lone Star State. Between 2020 and 2022, authorities arrested cockfighters in seventeen Texas counties stretching across fourteen of Texas’ thirty-eight US Congressional districts. While several hundred birds were seized, Texas law enforcement officials lament that prosecuting cockfighters for animal cruelty isn’t enough to stop the organized crime rings from flouting the law.

    Apart from their vicious treatment of roosters and dogs, animal fighters are notorious for engaging in a wide array of illicit activities, including human trafficking, money laundering and illegal arms sales. Still, enforcement of animal fighting laws is lax in some states. Shockingly, in recent years, legislators in other states have attempted to lower the penalties for animal fighting or decriminalize it altogether.

    Above and beyond the barbarity of forcing animals to fight to their death, animal fighting presents serious public health risks. Diseases such as avian flu spread easily from cockfighting operations to chickens grown for food. An epidemic of Newcastle disease in California from 2002-2003 was spread by cockfighting roosters immune to the fatal virus, and a massive outbreak in 2018-2020 caused the deaths of 16 million birds and $1 billion in containment costs. Similarly, H5N1 bird flu emerged in Asia in the early 2000s and spread via cockfighting. Human health could be seriously impacted if H5N1 were to mutate into a strain transmissible from human to human.


    H.R. 2742, known as the FIGHT Act, will crack down on cockfighting and dogfighting. The Act will:

    · Ban simulcasting and gambling on animal fights.

    · Prohibit the shipment of mature roosters through U.S. mail.

    · Create a civil lawsuit provision allowing citizens to sue illegal animal fighters.

    · Allow authorities to seize real property for animal fighting crimes.


    The Puppy Protection Act of 2023

    THLN strongly supports H.R. 1624 known as the Puppy Protection Act of 2023. This bipartisan bill will update the standards of care commercial dog breeders licensed by the USDA must meet to better protect the health and wellbeing of animals in their facilities.


    USDA standards of care under the current version of the Animal Welfare Act are so low they are referred to as “survival only” standards. For decades, standards of care at USDA facilities have lagged far behind standards imposed by state regulatory agencies. But not all states require a state license to breed and ship puppies.

    USDA facilities are the operations that breed puppies for sale via the internet or to customers “sight unseen”. They have been the producer of choice for retail pet stores primarily because they always have a large “inventory” of popular breeds.

    These producers, known in the industry as dealers, are able to have a constant supply of puppies by cutting corners at every turn, including confining dogs in cramped, wire cages, skipping vaccinations and overbreeding females. Some USDA licensees insist on performing surgical procedures themselves, like delivering puppies via cesarian-section. Animals in these facilities are routinely denied vet care, exercise, and socialization. Spent females are discarded or destroyed when they are no longer productive.


    H.R. 1624, known as the Puppy Protection Act of 2023, would bolster protection for dogs in commercial breeding facilities by improving by:

    · Improving housing standards, including requiring solid flooring, more space and temperature control.

    · Requiring 30 minutes of socialization and exercise per day.

    · Limiting how often females can be bred and requiring breeders to partner with shelters and rescues to rehome retired breeding dogs.

    THLN was successful at improving the Texas Licensed Breeders Program (TLBP) which regulates dog and cat breeders who hold a Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) issued license by passing SB 876 in the 2023 Texas Legislative Session. However, TDLR does not have authority over the out-of-state USDA licensed producers who ship puppies to Texas to supply retail pet stores. Considering Texas is home to several retail pet stores that source from USDA suppliers, the Puppy Protection Act is vital to protecting both animals and consumers from sight unseen, out-of-state puppy mills.


    Goldie’s Act

    While the Puppy Protection Act of 2023 aims to improve standards of care for puppies and breeding dogs in USDA-licensed facilities, H.R. 1788, known as Goldie’s Act, would close loopholes in the Animal Welfare Act that allow USDA licensees to escape consequences for cruel treatment of animals in their care.


    Named after a Golden Retriever who suffered extreme neglect and died at a USDA-licensed in 2021, Goldie's Act will require the USDA to conduct more frequent and meaningful inspections, provide lifesaving intervention for suffering animals, issue penalties for violations, and communicate with local law enforcement to within 24 hours of citing licensees for cruelty.

    Retail pet stores like to advertise that the puppies they sell come from USDA-licensed breeders because it gives the public the impression the puppies are sourced from clean, safe facilities. Regrettably, this is not so. USDA license holders have benefitted from regulation loopholes and lax enforcement for decades, but especially since 2017 when the USDA rewrote the inspection manual left inspector positions unfilled after inspectors left the agency. Thereafter, the number of reported violations declined significantly.

    Before 2017, USDA inspectors recorded close to 2,000 violations yearly. In 2018, the number of violations cited on inspection reports fell to 280, and in 2020, the number declined to just over 150. Inspections plummeted further with the onset of the COVID pandemic and the majority of inspections conducted went virtual. The USDA inspections conducted at the facility where Goldie died were useless. The facility had racked up more than 200 violations over multiple inspections for cramming dogs in tiny cages, leaving dogs in cages filled with waste, and allowing dogs to die from disease and injury instead of seeking veterinary treatment.

    In June 2021, the Office of Inspector General, the agency that audits federal programs issued a report showing USDA lacks transparency, does not follow up on complaints, and does not take enforcement actions against licensees. The report stated USDA's recordkeeping system is so deficient and unreliable the agency could not make informed management decisions or identify how many inspections had been completed. Nor did it have a complete list of all active licensees and inspections for the three-year period covered in the report.

    Goldie’s suffering is just one example of an ongoing pattern of the USDA turning a blind eye to animal abuse. In 2022, the USDA recorded over 800 violations at USDA-licensed facilities. Incredibly, no animals were confiscated from breeders, no licenses were suspended, and no fines or penalties were imposed.


    THLN strongly supports H.R. 1788 - known as Goldies Act – to require the USDA to interrupt animal suffering and punish problematic breeders. Specifically, Goldie’s Act would require the USDA to:

    · Conduct annual inspections of licensee and grant access to all licensee facilities, requiring detailed descriptions of any observed violations.

    · Confiscate animals who are suffering.

    · Monetarily penalize licensees who violate the AWA.

    · Share inspection information and reports with state, local, and municipal animal control or law enforcement within 24 hours of the inspection.


    The Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act of 2023


    For several years now, the federal government has de facto prohibited horse slaughter for human consumption in the US by refusing to fund USDA inspections of horse slaughter plants. But the problem of transporting American horses over our borders for slaughter remains. In 2022, the USDA reported more than 16,300 horses were shipped to Mexico to be slaughtered; more than 5,100 horses went to slaughter in Canada.

    Horses are considered companions, not food, by Americans, and most have no idea thousands of American horses are killed for food each year. The journey usually starts at an auction where horses are bought at bottom dollar by “kill buyers” for transport. These transports cause extreme suffering because the horses are loaded in cattle trucks

    and forced to travel for days without food, water, or rest. They suffer dehydration, injuries, and even death before reaching their final destination.

    Dismembering horses for consumption isn’t just cruel, it’s a public health risk. Unlike animals specifically raised to be eaten, the vast majority of US horses have been treated with a multitude of pain killers, dewormers, and even illegal performance-enhancing drugs known to be dangerous to humans.


    H.R. 3475, known as the Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act:

    · Prohibits shipping, transporting, delivering, receiving, possessing, buying, selling, or donating horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption.

    · Codifies that slaughtering horses for human consumption is illegal in all fifty states. Currently, horse slaughter plants are shuttered because USDA inspections have not been funded for years, but strictly speaking, horse slaughter for human consumption is not illegal under federal law.

    · Protects the human food supply by halting the flow of horses tainted with toxic substances to slaughter plants abroad.


    House Resolution 3709 - Microchip Funding

    THLN supports H.R. 3709 which will direct the USDA to enter into cooperative agreements with animal shelters and humane societies to fund microchipping of shelter dogs and cats. The legislation was filed in late May of 2023 and was referred to the House Agriculture Committee. Not many details about the legislation are available yet. But the benefits of microchipping pets are well known. Consider the following statistics from an American Veterinary Medical Association study published in the AVMA Journal:

    · One in three pets will become lost at some point during their lifetime.

    · Microchipping pets increases their chances they’ll be reunited with their families by orders of magnitude. Approximately 22% of lost dogs that enter shelters are reunited with their families. That rate of return jumps up to 52% for microchipped dogs, a 238% percent increase.

    · Less than 2% of lost cats that enter animal shelters are reunited with their families, but the rate of return for microchipped cats is more than 38% which is a 2,000% increase.



    House Resolution 3957 - The Providing of Unhoused People with Pets Act (PUPP)

    By providing better accommodations for people experiencing homelessness who have pets, the PUPP Act will help remove a common barrier to shelter and services for vulnerable veterans, individuals, and families who gain strength from their companion animals.

    Pets play a pivotal role in the lives of their human caregivers, regardless of their income level or housing situation. Pets have public health benefits at nearly every stage of life, including lower blood pressure, lower risk of heart disease, reduced stress levels, decreased anxiety and depression, strengthened immune systems, and increased physical activity. Animals can be especially important companions for people experiencing housing instability.

    Studies have shown that people experiencing homelessness report that their pets provide a sense of responsibility and are a reason to live, reduce substance use, and seek healthcare. In 2022, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) counted over 582,000 Americans experiencing homelessness, including sheltered and unsheltered individuals. An estimated 12% of people experiencing homelessness have pets.


    Currently, most emergency shelters do not accept pets – forcing individuals experiencing homelessness to choose between access to shelter and essential services or keeping their beloved pets. In most cases, individuals will refuse assistance and shelter if it comes with the condition of giving up a beloved pet. This scenario harms individuals’ well-being and contributes to the cycle of chronic homelessness. The PUPP Act offers a solution by creating a grant program – operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in consultation with HUD – to provide funds to eligible entities, enabling emergency shelters to make the necessary changes to accommodate unhoused individuals with pets, including providing basic veterinary services. The program is modeled on the highly successful California Pet Assistance and Support Program.

    Over two grant cycles, the state of California has allocated $15 million in small grants to nonprofit shelter operators to retrofit their facilities to accommodate pets. Both cycles were oversubscribed two to one, demonstrating the great interest and need for such accommodations. Feedback from grantees demonstrated that the investments allow the facilities to not just provide the necessary retrofitting, but also to provide support to both the owners and pets to ensure the long-term success of each in permanent housing. The California model demonstrates that a relatively modest amount of investment can make a big difference in the lives of those experiencing emergency housing needs, and ultimately save lives.

    If you have any questions about these laws, please email [email protected].


  • THLN featured by San Antonio Express News about the new Animal Laws passed in 2023

    Originally Published in: San Antonio Express-News
    Published on: 
    September 14, 2023
    Written By: Cathy M Rosenthal


    Three new animal welfare bills passed in this year’s state legislative session and are now laws in Texas as of Sept. 1.

    Decades of research have shown a connection in people between cruelty to animals and later violence toward humans. House Bill 598 makes it a crime for a person convicted of animal cruelty to possess or live with an animal for up to five years from conviction, and it enhances the punishment for repeat offenders. It’s a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine, and a Class B misdemeanor for repeat offenders with up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine.

    While the punishments could be more stringent for these crimes, said Shelby Bobosky, executive director of the Texas Humane Legislation Network, “It is a first step toward interrupting the cycle of abuse at its earliest stages and making Texas safer for our communities.”

    Senate Bill 876 answers some prayers for those fighting to close loopholes in commercial dog- and cat-breeding operations.

    It previously defined a breeder as someone who owns 11 or more adult unspayed female dogs or cats. The new law now requires someone who owns five unspayed female dogs and cats, and who “is engaged in the business of breeding those animals for direct or indirect sales” to have a license to operate under the Occupations Code of Texas.

    If you have been trying to pass off your animal as a service animal, it’s not only a crime, but the fines for it have tripled in Texas.

    HB 4164 redefines a service animal as one specially trained to assist a person with a disability. If your pet has not received this specialty training and you knowingly or intentionally represent your pet as an assistance animal, you can be subject to a fine of up to $1,000 and 30 hours of community service at organizations serving people with

    While not among the big three for animals, HB 4069 requires financial transparency for pet owners seeking emergency care for their pets.

    Prior to treatment, veterinary clinics now must disclose treatment prices for a sick or injured pet before services are rendered. In other words, you won’t be surprised by the emergency room bill at the end of the visit.


    Read the full article >

  • THLN featured on KHOU-11 regarding Service Dog Laws in Texas

    Originally Published in: KHOU 11
    Published on: 
    September 4, 2023
    Written By: Michelle Homer, Janelle Bludau


    HOUSTON — One of the nearly 800 new Texas laws now in effect is getting a lot of attention from pet owners.

    House Bill 4164 increases the penalty for people misrepresenting their dogs as service animals when they are not specially trained. Fines for violating the law have increased from $300 to $1,000 and 30 hours of community service.

    Advocates say they fought for the change to protect people with disabilities and their service animals.

    “In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of non-disabled people that represent their pets as service animals," explained Shelby Bobosky with the Texas Humane Legislation Network. “It’s really evident when you bring an untrained or misbehaved dog into a restaurant and you can see them jumping on a table, barking -- that is definitely not a service animal.”

    While some public establishments do allow non-service animals, including emotional support dogs, they're not required to under the law.

    “Maybe those people that have bought those fake vests and fake certificates will think twice about taking advantage of it," Bobosky said.

    A lot of Texas pet owners are confused by the difference between a service animal, an emotional support animal and a therapy or comfort animal so we broke down the key differences.

    What is a service animal?

    Under Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability. 

    Examples of service dogs:

    • Providing physical support and assistance for people who use wheelchairs or have other mobility disabilities. 
    • Assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation.
    • Alerting a person with hearing loss to a sound.
    • Detecting an oncoming seizure and assisting an individual during the seizure.
    • Reminding a person to take medication.
    • Helping individuals with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors.
    • Helping people with PTSD by applying pressure to alleviate anxiety, nudging to interrupt flashbacks or licking their hand to alert them to an oncoming panic attack.

    People who rely on service animals as defined by the ADA are protected from discrimination under federal and state laws.

    • No common carrier, airplane, railroad train, motor bus, streetcar, boat, or other public conveyance or mode of transportation operating in the state may refuse as a passenger a person with a disability because of the disability, nor may a person with a disability be required to pay an additional fare because of their use of a service animal, wheelchair, crutches, or other device used to assist them in travel.
    • No person with a disability may be denied admittance to any public facility in the state because of their disability. No person with a disability may be denied the use of a white cane, assistance animal, wheelchair, crutches, or other device of assistance.
    • A person with a total or partial disability who has or obtains a service animal is entitled to full and equal access to all housing accommodations, and may not be required to pay extra compensation or make a deposit for the animal but is liable for damages done to the premises by the animal except for reasonable wear and tear.
    • A service animal in training must not be denied admittance to any public facility when accompanied by an approved trainer.
    • A person may not assault, harass, interfere with, kill, or injure in any way, or attempt to assault, harass, interfere with, kill, or injure in any way, an assistance animal.
    • A person is not entitled to make demands or inquiries about the qualifications or certifications of a service animal for purposes of admittance to a public facility except to determine the basic type of assistance provided by the service animal to a person with a disability.
    • If a person's disability is not readily apparent, for purposes of admittance to a public facility with a service animal, a staff member or manager of the facility may inquire about:
      • whether the service animal is required because the person has a disability; and what type of work or task the service animal is trained to perform.

    Do you have to provide proof in public places that your pet is a service animal?

    Enforcing the new Texas law could be tricky for a few reasons. 

    The ADA doesn't require service animals to wear a vest, ID tag or specific harness. Under the ADA, a public accommodation or facility is not allowed to ask for documentation or proof that the animal has been certified, trained or licensed as a service animal.  They are also not allowed to demand a demonstration of the tasks the service animal can perform. The ADA also limits other questions that can be asked. When a person who claims to have a service animal enters a public place, the person cannot be asked about the nature or extent of his or her disability. Only two questions can be asked:

    1. Is the animal required because of a disability?
    2. What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?

    If the answer to question 1 is yes and the tasks listed for question 2 are directly related to the person’s disability, then the animal is a service animal.


    Read the full article >

  • THLN featured in Texas Tribune regarding 2023 Possession Ban Law

    Originally Published in: The Texas Tribune
    Published on: 
    September 8, 2023
    Written By: Ali Juell


    New Texas law bars animal cruelty offenders from owning animals for five years

    Read the full article >

  • THLN featured in The Kerrville Daily Times

    Originally Published in: The Kerrville Daily Times
    Published on: 
    September 13, 2023
    Written By: Nancy Foster

    Three animal-related bills passed the 88th Texas Legislature Session this year and are now in place as of Sept. 1. In an effort to educate the public on what these bills mean as well as what is left to be done two Hill Country organizations will come together to present the facts.

    Kerrville Pets Alive! will host a presentation from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 18, at the Hill Country Youth Event Center, led by Shelby Bobosky, executive director of the Austin-based Texas Humane Legislation Network.


    Read the full article >

  • THLN’s Priority Agenda for the 2025 Texas Legislative Session


    In 2025, THLN plans to support a bill that will help put an end to cruel puppy mill practices and protect both pets and consumers by requiring that only healthy animals sourced from shelters and rescues be sold in retail pet stores. Currently, many retail pet stores source their puppies and kittens from unscrupulous, out-of-state puppy mills.

    Out-of-state puppy mills store puppies in poor conditions, take them away from their moms too soon, and truck them hundreds or thousands of miles across the country to be sold in retail pet stores and there’s a reason why only one of the top 25 retailers still sells dogs from these conditions. This year alone, Dallas, Houston, and New Braunfels passed humane pet store ordinances, demonstrating the need and support for a statewide law. While 17 cities across Texas have passed retail pet store ordinances, millions of Texans are still vulnerable to the deceptive business practices used to sell puppies sourced from inhumane puppy mills. All Texans deserve to be protected from buying sick, defective puppies.

    During the 2023 legislative session, the bill received huge bipartisan support but ultimately couldn’t get past the finish line before the session ended.

    Be sure to sign up for action alerts for the upcoming session! 

    Sign up for Action Alerts


    What is The Puppy Mill Pipeline to Texas?

    The Puppy Mill Pipeline to Texas.

    Puppy mill breeders in other states rely on Texas retail pet stores to present a clean, spotless store with a happy puppy. Customers don’t think about where puppies are born, where the breeding dogs are kept, or how they are treated. We prop up this puppy pipeline by allowing puppy mill puppies to be sold in Texas.

    Here is what happens: a puppy broker (a middleman who obtains puppies in bulk from commercial breeders and is responsible for transporting the puppies to the retail store) buys puppies and re-sells the puppies to retailers. A cargo van picks up the puppies (holding up to 150), drives thousands of miles to Texas from Nebraska, Missouri, Ohio, and elsewhere, and goes to one store and the next until all the puppies are dropped off.

    Despite these puppy brokers trucking puppies over long distances to their final retail destinations, there is no limit to the number of continuous hours puppies may be trucked or how many puppies may be packed into one cargo van. A puppy only needs to be offered food and water once every 12 hours, and the driver is not required to have any animal care experience. Young puppies with underdeveloped immune systems spending hours or days in a dirty (urine and feces-soaked), confined cargo truck can significantly stress their immune systems, resulting in disease transmission or worse. Former pet store employees disclose that retail pet store owners don’t want their profits used up on vet bills, so these puppies don’t get better. They are sold to the unassuming public, and this is why so many people go home with a puppy that might have parvo, distemper, giardia, campylobacter, and so on. Unsuspecting Texans buy these puppies, become attached, and are soon faced with crushing vet bills and the potential death of their new pet.

    If the puppies aren’t sick, they can quickly develop behavioral issues. The puppies are sitting in glass boxes at nine, ten, and eleven weeks old, not being socialized.

    Predatory Financing

    Unfair lending practices, unscrupulous balloon payments, or immediate vet bills from a sick puppy.

    The story is always the same. A consumer unwittingly purchases a seriously ill dog through a loan with an interest rate as high as 189%. The consumer is put in a room where they sit with a puppy, and it’s love at first sight. Then, the price is disclosed, and adding taxes, a supply kit and other add-ons can cost thousands of dollars. The consumer puts down a small deposit, and, with the help of the staff, the consumer signs an agreement financing the rest of the purchase through a loan or possibly two. It’s never disclosed that interest rates can balloon if they do not pay off the loan within ninety days. The documents placed before the consumer are irrelevant to them, as the focus is on the puppy. In addition, they do not know the puppy has serious health problems that would lead to multiple costly veterinary trips that would impact their ability to pay off the loan.

    Here are some examples:

    — A New Jersey consumer who bought a cocker spaniel was charged 152% interest, five times the legal limit of 30% in New Jersey.

    — A Georgia consumer complained that the pet store didn’t tell her EasyPay’s finance charges amounted to an interest rate of 180%. “My puppy was supposed to cost $2,500 (and) now costs almost $7,000.”

    — A Florida consumer said he was left with damaged credit after buying a puppy that immediately fell ill and eventually died. “I only borrowed $2,200 … I owe $5,500 on my credit report due to interest,” the consumer complained.

    And when the puppy dies, the collection companies continue to call.

    In 2019 and 2021, a bill was introduced in Congress to provide a permanent, national solution to the “rent-a-bank” issue by establishing a 36% interest rate cap that would apply to all lenders. But that proposal has faced stiff opposition from the finance industry and has yet to be approved by Congress.

    Jurisdictions that have passed a Humane Pet Store Bill.

    Seven states have stopped the sale of puppies in pet stores, including Washington, Oregon, Illinois, New York, Maine, Vermont, California, and Maryland. Currently, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Massachusetts are in the process of passing these laws.

    The City of Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 2006, was the first ordinance that stopped the sale of puppies in pet stores. Currently, 471 cities have passed these ordinances, including the following stores from Texas: Austin, College Station, Dallas, El Paso, Euless, Fort Worth, Houston, New Braunfels, San Antonio, Sherman, and Waco. THLN and our grassroots nation were instrumental in many of these victories.


    On May 11, 2022, the city of Dallas passed the Humane Pet Store Ordinance unanimously. Out of 33 pet stores, only one – Dallas Petland - was out of compliance with this potential ordinance and selling puppies. In 2020, this pet store imported 1,348 dogs from out-of-state puppy millers (Source: Bailing Out Benji). Once the ordinance passed, the city of Dallas was sued, and the lawsuit stated that the law was unconstitutional. Not one pet store has won a case trying to invalidate a Humane pet store ordinance. All 22 local, state, and federal lawsuits have failed. As in this example, the lawsuit was tossed out, and Dallas Petland closed its doors soon after.


    THLN and local advocates passed a Humane Pet Store law on January 18, 2022, and Houston gave the pet stores one year to comply. During that time, Houston Petland targeted this ordinance to reverse the ban on selling puppies in pet stores by either being grandfathered in or regulated, but ultimately failed. As of January 18, 2023, puppies may no longer be sold in Houston Pet stores (but they are available for adoption through animal shelters and rescues (i.e., humanely sourced). Houston pet stores that do not comply are subject to a fine of $500 per puppy per day. Six stores either moved or became compliant, but one refused to follow the law. On August 3, 2023, Petland Bellaire failed to appear in court, and a warrant was issued. Stay tuned for updates on the Houston Petland case! 

    The work that THLN and other grassroots activists have done at the local level is a tremendous momentum builder for Texas to be the eighth state to pass this law.

    *          *          *


    History of the Humane Pet Store Bill


    During the 87th Legislative Session, Rep. Jared Patterson filed HB 1818, which would create a civil penalty for pet stores selling animals from puppy mills. The bill passed out of the Texas House Committee on Business & Industry during its first session. It received substantial bipartisan support in the Senate, but ultimately, HB 1818 did not meet the final deadline to be passed into law before the end of the 87th Legislative Session.


    On December 2, 2022, Rep. Patterson filed HB 870, which, like its 2021 predecessor HB 1818, required that only healthy dogs and cats sourced from shelters and rescues be sold in retail pet stores. The law brings consistency across Texas’ largest counties – those with a population of 200,000 or more – primarily suburban and urban areas.


    On April 27, 2023, the Texas Attorney General issued a Civil Investigative Demand related to possible violations by Petland, Inc. and its franchises of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices & Consumer Protection Act. This follows other investigations by attorney generals in other states like Florida. According to the Florida complaint, the pet stores falsely claim the puppies for sale are already, or could be, registered with the American Kennel Club and make misrepresentations that puppies come from USDA breeders. This is a step in the right direction for Texas!

    “I’m proud to file HB 870 once again to provide the necessary restrictions to protect pets and their owners.” -Representative Jared Patterson.

    HB 870 had a hearing in the Texas House Committee on Business & Industry on April 24, 2023. The pet store lobbyists and breeders flooded the hearing room, which was a battle. Ultimately, the bill did not get to the floor for a House vote and died in the House Calendars Committee.

    View the SB 870 Fact Sheet

    *          *          *


    The bottom line is that these puppies are only being used for profit. Please contact us at [email protected] if you want to get more involved in passing this bill and making Texas the eighth state to end the sale of puppy mill puppies in Texas pet stores and help us shut down the puppy mill pipeline!


  • Three New Animal Welfare Laws Go Into Effect September 1, 2023


    Three New Animal Welfare Laws Take Effect Today 

    AUSTIN, Texas – Today, September 1, 2023, three new animal welfare bills have become Texas law. During the 2023 legislative session, the Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN) advocated for all three bills: SB 876HB 4164, and HB 598

    “With passage of three monumental bills, Texas is taking a giant step forward to making our state more humane for thousands of animals and the families they belong to,” said Shelby Bobosky, Executive Director of THLN. “We could not be more thankful to the dedicated lawmakers who authored these bills, the thousands of advocates who supported these bills, and legislators in both chambers who voted for them.”

    The three laws are as follows: 
    SB 876 by Senators Flores and Whitmire and Representative Buckley reforms and strengthens the Texas Licensed Breeders Program and will prevent animal cruelty from happening in large-scale breeding facilities before it begins.

    -HB 4164 by Representative Cortez and Senator Whitmire defines a service animal as one specially trained to assist a person with a disability. The law also increases the fine for masquerading an untrained pet as a service animal from $300 to $1000, and fraudsters might face 30 hours of community service for organizations serving persons with disabilities.

    -HB 598 by Representative Shaheen and Senate Sponsor Whitmire prevents previous perpetrators of animal cruelty from possessing a companion animal and establishes an enhanced offense for repeat offenders to prevent future violence.

    “While there is always more to achieve in the realm of animal welfare, Texans should be proud of this progress and look forward to what’s to come in the next few years,” concluded Bobosky. “As always, THLN remains a voice for Texas animals, as well as a resource to help Texans understand and abide by these new laws.” 

    To learn more or to schedule an interview, contact Cara Gustafson at 561-797-8267 or [email protected].

  • New law will prevent people with animal cruelty convictions from owning pets

    Originally Published by: KTRE
    Published on: 
    August 17, 2023
    Written By: Tyre White

    Read the article and watch the news clip > 

    NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - A new law will make it illegal for people with animal cruelty convictions to have a pet or live in a house with a pet for at least five years.

    Offenses include dogfighting, cockfighting, attacking an assistance animal, or cruelty to a non-livestock animal. Executive director of the non-profit animal shelter SPCA, Ron Hornsby, said this law will change how they screen adopters.

    “We’ll be asking in our applications, have you ever been convicted of animal cruelty or an offense relating to it, and hopefully, we can reduce those individuals who may want to adopt through us.”

    The first violation of this law will result in a class C misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine. A repeated offense will be a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a maximum fine of $2,000.

    Hornsby believes the law can keep animals out of the wrong hands.

    “So you have a lot more work to do to try and weed out undesirables so we can ensure we still get the right homes for those animals.”

    Despite the extra work, Hornsby said animal protection laws in Texas are heading in the right direction.

    I do think it is a good right step, moving forward, for the safety and protection of animals, absolutely without a question, and hopefully, we get a few more like that as well.”

    HB 598 will go into effect on September 1.

  • 2019: Proposition 10

    Until 2000, it was legal and common practice to euthanize military working dogs, known as MWDs, at the end of their useful service. Historically viewed as “surplus equipment,” they weren’t seen as having value beyond the military purpose for which they were trained. But in 2000, Congress enacted “Robby’s Law" which began an adoption program for military dogs at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, where almost all military dogs are trained. But as late as 2019, Texas law enforcement dogs and horses were considered surplus property and a county could only “auction, donate or destroy” the property when it stopped being useful. Before the legislative session, the law made it difficult to retire a dog when their handler left or retired, and the animals were required to be sold to comply with state law. THLN supported legislation (unanimously approved by the House and Senate) creating the proposed amendment asking voters to authorize the adoption of retired law enforcement dogs and horses by their handler when they leave or retire.

    In 2019, the voters overwhelmingly supported Proposition 10, a constitutional amendment, and now handlers can adopt retired law enforcement animals. Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington carried SJR 32 in the House and Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, carried SB 2100 in the Senate.


  • Austin American-Statesman features THLN and the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act

    Originally Published in: Austin American-Statesman
    Published on: 
    July 26, 2023
    Written By: Amethyst Martinez

    As Texans across the state are battling with 100-plus degree days, many might not consider those that are highly susceptible to heat injuries: pets, and specifically dogs.

    Check out some of these tips to protect your dog from the dangerous heat:

    What laws protect dogs during these conditions?

    The Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, passed in 2021, protects them by:

    • Defining adequate shelter to shield dogs from extreme temperatures and standing water.
    • Ensuring that dogs can turn around, lie down and stand in shelters.
    • Defining appropriate restraints for dogs (i.e., not choking the dog or impeding its normal breathing or swallowing, not allowing for escape and not causing pain or injury to the dog).
    • Requiring access to drinkable water.
    • Ending a 24-hour warning period for pet owners, allowing officials to take immediate action for dogs in distress.


    How can you help a dog in distress due to high temperatures?

    According to Shelby Bobosky, executive director of the Texas Humane Legislation Network, the organization has been "inundated with calls, emails and texts from concerned Texans about the laws in these brutally hot conditions and what they can do to help."

    Here are some tips if you're looking to help a dog in need:

    • Heat advisory warnings in your area? If you spot a dog outside without shelter or water, a local animal control center can do a welfare check.
    • Animals spotted in hot cars require immediate action. THLN recommends that you assess the situation, notify authorities, spread awareness and continue to monitor the dog.

    Read the full article >


  • Dallas Morning News Features THLN and the Gas Chamber Bill in 2013

    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.


    Gas chambers

    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.

    Read the full article >


  • San Antonio Express News Mentions THLN Regarding Recent Bexar County Puppy Mill

    Originally Published in: San Antonio Express-News
    Published on: 
    August 3, 2023
    Written By: Emilie Eaton, Staff Writer

    "Bexar County Sheriff’s Office says it expects to file animal cruelty charges against a 79-year-old man who was running what authorities are calling a “puppy mill” in South Bexar County.

    Sheriff Javier Salazar said deputies executed a search warrant early Thursday morning at the man’s home off Interstate 35 and Kinney Road, where they found 62 dogs in “pretty deplorable” conditions. They also found eight dead dogs in a trash can, he said."


    "Salazar said the man was being cooperative with authorities, but that he could face “a variety of cruelty-related charges.”

    Salazar said there is no countywide ordinance limiting the number of dogs a person can own.

    However, state law requires animal breeders to have a license if they have more than 11 non-spayed female dogs and sell 20 or more puppies a year, according to the Texas Humane Legislation Network."

    Read the full article >

  • Volunteer


    THLN is looking for enthusiastic, self-motivated individuals to join in our mission to advocate for Texas animals by effecting systemic change. If you’ve got a passion for animals and want to contribute to making a tangible difference in thousands of Texas animal’s lives, volunteer with us and become part of the most powerful statewide network for animals.

    With a variety of volunteer opportunities available, you’re bound to find something that suits your interests, talents and schedule.

    Please fill out the form linked below to get started, and make sure to check out our upcoming events!

    Step 1: Please complete the form below and then click 'Next' to answer some questions about where you would most like to help us.  PLEASE NOTE: YOUR APPLICATION WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED COMPLETE UNTIL THE QUESTIONS HAVE BEEN ANSWERED.

    Become a volunteer

  • Laws about Service Dogs, Assistance Animals, and Emotional Support Animals in Texas

    Service Animals vs. Emotional Support Animals

    Spoiler Alert: These are NOT the same

    A service animal is one that has been individually trained to perform specific task for a person with a disability. The task must help the person cope with the disability. The animal does not have to be trained by a professional trainer but may be trained by the owner.

    An emotional support animal (ESA) is an animal whose presence provides emotional support, comfort or companionship for a mentally disabled person but is not individually trained to perform any task related to the disability.

    The laws permitting service and emotional support animals (ESA’s) to accompany their owners only apply to people who have a physical or mental disability. Someone who thinks they need an “emotional support animal” because they are depressed, stressed, lonely, suffering from PTSD, or having emotional problems, but who has not been diagnosed by a health care provider as being mentally disabled, is not entitled to the legal protections of the service animal and ESA laws. A healthcare provider has to make the diagnosis. This is by far the most misunderstood aspect of the law regarding ESA’s.

    What is a “disability”?

    A disability is “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity” such as caring for oneself, working, performing manual tasks, lifting, bending, eating, sleeping, breathing, walking, standing, reading, hearing, concentrating, thinking, hearing, and communicating. These are only examples of major life activities. There are many others.

    Service Animals and ESAs are NEVER Required to be Certified, Registered, or Licensed

    Contrary to popular belief, service and emotional support animals are not required to be certified, registered, or licensed by any agency or authority, although there is a plethora of online companies that will—for a price—“certify” or “register” animals. 

    These companies sell certificates, vests, and other paraphernalia without requiring any documentation from a healthcare provider. None of these things is needed because service animals and ESAs are not required to wear anything that identifies them as service animals or ESAs, and their owners are not required to have any kind of ID, letter, certificate, or anything else.

    Learn about Emotional Support Animals VS Service Animals

    All Animal Control Laws Still Apply to Service Animals and ESAs

    All state and local animal control laws still apply to service and emotional support animals, including rabies vaccination requirements, city registration/licensing ordinances, tethering and barking ordinances, dangerous dog laws, animal cruelty laws, ordinances prohibiting dogs in beds of pickup trucks, and leash laws. 

    Can you get in trouble for falsely representing that a pet is a service animal?

    There is no penalty under the Americans with Disabilities Act for falsely representing that a pet is a service or emotional support animal. This has led to widespread abuse by pet owners taking advantage of this fact and bringing their pets into establishments that do not allow animals.

    A recent victory by THLN in 2023 made it a misdemeanor in the State of Texas to use a fake vest or leash, punishable by a $300 fine and community service. 

    Learn More About This Victory

    Laws Regarding Service Animals in Public Places (ADA Title III)

    A service dog or miniature horse must be allowed to accompany its owner into any place open to the public. This includes grocery stores, restaurants, shops, hotels, hospitals, offices, gyms, theaters, hotels, banks, golf courses, zoos, and pretty much all other places you can think of. If non-disabled people are allowed to enter the premises, so are service animals (with a few very limited exceptions.)

    No emotional support animals are allowed. Only trained service dogs and miniature horses are allowed to accompany a disabled person into places open to the public.

    The disabled person with a service animal may only be asked two questions:

     1) is the animal required because of a disability, and 2) what tasks is the animal trained to perform? The facility is not allowed to ask for any more information or request any documentation of the disability or animal training. The dog is not required to wear a vest and the owner is not required to have a letter, ID, or certificate of any kind.

    Service animals must be housebroken and under control. If the dog jumps up on people, barks, runs around, pees indoors, or otherwise misbehaves, the disabled person and his or her dog may be ordered to leave. The facility may require the dog to be on a leash or in a harness unless it would interfere with the dog being able to perform its tasks. Even then, it must still be under control at all times.

    Laws Regarding Service Animals on Airplanes (Air Carrier Access Act)

    Only trained service dogs are allowed. No emotional support animals. The airline may not restrict dog breeds. Dogs in training qualify.


    The service dog must be leashed, housebroken, not disruptive, and not a threat to health or safety. The dog must be on the person’s lap or foot space and must not encroach into another passenger’s space. The airline may require the dog owner to submit a completed Department of Transportation service animal form and may require 48 hours advance notice if the reservation is made at least 48 hours before the flight. The airline may not require someone with a service dog to check in early. The disabled person and service dog must be given a bulkhead seat if it is requested. 

    Determination by the airline that the dog is eligible.

    To determine if a dog is eligible to fly, the airline may: 1) make the two inquiries mentioned above (is the dog needed because of a disability and what tasks is the dog trained to perform), 2) observe the dog’s behavior, or 3) look for indications that the dog is a service dog, such as a vest or harness.

    Laws Regarding Service Animals on Buses, Taxis, Uber, Etc (ADA Title III)

    Only trained service animals are allowed. No emotional support animals.transportation entity must modify its policies and procedures to allow service animals unless it would pose a risk to health or safety or “fundamentally alter the nature of its services. The animal must be housebroken, under control, and not disruptive.

    The disabled person may only be asked two questions: 1) is the animal required because of a disability, and 2) what tasks is the animal trained to perform? The transportation entity is not allowed to ask for any more information or request any documentation of the disability or animal training. The dog is not required to wear a vest and the owner is not required to have a letter, ID, or certificate of any kind.

    Laws Regarding Service Animals in the Workplace (ADA Title I)

    Employers with 15 or more employees must provide “reasonable accommodations” for disabled people unless it would cause undue hardship or a threat to health, safety, or welfare. The EEOC has said that a “reasonable accommodation” may include allowing a service animal. Arguably any species of animal may qualify. Employers with fewer than 15 employees are not required to allow service animals.

    Emotional support animals may be a reasonable accommodation. There is no requirement in the EEOC rules that an animal must be individually trained as a service animal. Thus, ESA’s may qualify, although I had a case where this was disputed by an employer.


    The disabled person must be qualified for the job. The employer is allowed to make inquiries into the disabled person’s ability to do the job and is allowed to ask how an animal will assist them in performing the job. The employer is allowed to inquire about the disability and how an animal would help. The employer may also require the disabled person to undergo a medical examination to determine his or her ability to do the job. All animals must be housebroken and under control. The employer may require a leash or harness unless it would interfere with the animal performing its tasks, but the animal must still be controlled by verbal commands.


    Laws Regarding Service Animals in Housing (Fair Housing Act) 

    Housing providers must allow “assistance animals.” Housing providers include landlords, HOAs, cities, property rental agents, zoning ordinances, etc.

    Assistance animals are defined as:

    1) trained service dogs.

    2) “support animals,” which include emotional support animals and trained or untrained animals other than dogs.

    There are two types of "Support Animals":

    1) “Common household animals” qualify as support animals. These include animals such as such as dogs, cats, turtles, birds, gerbils, fish, rabbits, etc.

    2) “Unique animals” are animals that are not traditionally kept in the home, such as monkeys, goats, kangaroos, etc. In order for a unique animal to qualify as a support animal the disabled person has a “substantial burden” to show the need for that specific type of animal. (For example, a monkey that is trained to open bottles for a paralyzed person would qualify.)

    No breed restrictions.
    City ordinances prohibiting certain species or breeds of animals do not apply to assistance animals which are allowed under the Fair Housing Act.

    Pet deposits are not allowed:
    Housing providers may not charge pet deposits for assistance animals because they are not pets.

    Reasonable information may be requested by the housing provider.
    If a person’s 
    disability is not apparent (as, for example, when the person is blind) then reasonable information may be requested by the housing provider. This would include things such as a government record or a note from a health care provider—but not medical records, diagnosis, or a medical exam. (I once represented a 50-something-year-old woman whose landlord demanded all her medical records going back to childhood, including her gynecological records. That was not a reasonable request, and we had a good outcome in that case.)



    Read the Laws in Texas




    Join the Texas Humane Legislation Network

    Everyone in Texas who owns or cares for animals and cares about the laws that protect them should join the Texas Humane Legislation Network, a non-profit, grassroots organization that fights for animals in the Texas legislature. Most of the animal protection laws in Texas were passed because of THLN’s efforts. The more members THLN has, the more clout they have in Austin to get animal protection legislation passed.