Jessica Hagmaier

  • Libations and Legislation

    Please join us on Wednesday, March 22 for our welcome reception to kick off Humane Lobby Day! Advocates throughout the state will come together to lobby for the humane treatment of animals. Enjoy vegan apps and drinks as we celebrate coming together for the animals!

    WHEN
    March 22, 2023 at 5:30pm
    WHERE
    DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Austin
    303 W 15th St
    Austin, TX 78701
    United States
    Google map and directions
    12 rsvps rsvp

  • THLN, Houston PetSet Celebrate Houston’s Humane Pet Store Ordinance

    HOUSTON, TEXAS – Today, the City of Houston’s humane pet store ordinance goes into effect, closing the puppy mill pipeline to Houston. On January 19, 2022, the Houston City Council passed a range of updated city ordinances, including a requirement that pet stores obtain their puppies from humane sources like animal shelters and rescues. The Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN) and Houston PetSet worked with the City of Houston and other advocates to pass the ordinance.

    “This will change the landscape of animal welfare in Houston for the better by stopping hundreds of sick puppies from being shipped from out-of-state puppy mills to Houston,” said Shelby Bobosky, Executive Director of THLN. “These transformational changes will help keep the animals and people of Houston safer and would not be possible without the dedication of the Houston City Council, Chairwoman Alcorn, her staff, and leaders at Houston’s city-run shelter, Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care (BARC).”

    Houston now joins Austin, College Station, Dallas, El Paso, Euless, Fort Worth, Houston, New Braunfels, San Antonio, Sherman, and Waco in cities that have passed a similar ordinance.

    "This ordinance is important for animal welfare in Houston," says Tena Lundquist Faust, Co-President of Houston PetSet. "It stops the flow of puppy mill puppies into our city, many of which are overbred and unvaccinated, resulting in illness and death. Additionally, more pets from shelters and rescue groups will now be adopted into loving homes, and fewer will be needlessly euthanized for lack of space. Why continue to fund commercial breeding operations when there are so many adoptable pets euthanized in our city and state every year? This makes sense for Houston on so many levels."

    "We love our animals in Houston! I am very happy we modernized our ordinance to better reflect how much we value them,” said Council Member Sallie Alcorn. “Thanks to all the stakeholders who put in the work to make these important policy changes. Our city is now safer for animals and humans!"

    “As a representative of the East End community, I was glad to be part of this process,” said Gloria Zenteno, Barrio Dogs Founder and President. “These ordinances are a step in the right direction to address these persistent and widespread issues in our community.”

    For more information about the ordinances or to schedule an interview, please contact Cara Gustafson at 561-797-8267 or [email protected].

    ###

    The Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN) is a 501c4 non-profit with over 45 years of experience at the Texas state capitol. THLN’s mission is to promote the humane treatment of animals through legislation and advocacy. THLN was instrumental in passing the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, making dog fighting illegal, creating humane standards for Texas shelters, establishing the Animal-Friendly license plate program, and enhancing the animal cruelty law. To learn more about THLN, please visit THLN.org.

    Houston PetSet’s mission is to end homelessness and suffering of companion animals and elevate their status in society. To learn more and get involved, visit www.houstonpetset.org

    Copyright © 2023 Texas Humane Legislation Network. All rights reserved. 


  •  

    Humane Lobby Day is a day when animal lovers from all walks of life, and from all across the state, meet at the Capitol to advocate for animals. No experience is necessary, just a passion for protecting animals from harm. At Humane Lobby Day, we will teach you all you need to know to effectively engage with lawmakers on the most important animal-related bills under consideration by the Legislature. Most of all, Humane Lobby Day is fun! After a full day of getting briefed on bills, special guest speakers, meeting with legislators and networking with like-minded Texans, you’ll be empowered to take that knowledge back to your community – and you will know you made a difference for animals!

    Thursday, March 23, 2023
    8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
    Capitol Extension Auditorium – Room E1.004
    Texas State Capitol
    1100 Congress Ave.
    Austin, TX 78701

    Schedule at a Glance:

    8:30 AM - 9:00 AM Check-in at the Capitol
    9:30 AM - 11:00 AM Presentation on Legislative Priorities
    11:30 AM - 12:00 PM Gather on the Capitol Steps
    12:00 PM - 5:00 PM Lunch & meetings with Legislators

    Parking:

    Public parking is available at the Capitol Area Visitors garage at 1201 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX 78701. Street parking is difficult to find near the Capitol, so we encourage parking in the garage. Parking is free for the first 2 hours, $1 for each half hour thereafter, and the maximum daily charge is $12.

    Accommodations:

    DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Austin
    303 W. 15th Street,
    Austin, TX 78701-1692
    Phone: 512-478-7000

    We have a block of rooms with a discounted rate of $279 per night and a discounted rate for parking. The deadline to book your room is March 1.

    RESERVE YOUR ROOM

    Join us For Libations and Legislation:

    Please join us on Wednesday, March 22 for our welcome reception to kick off Humane Lobby Day! Advocates throughout the state will come together to lobby for the humane treatment of animals. Enjoy vegan apps and drinks as we celebrate coming together for the animals!

    RSVP HERE

    What should I wear to Humane Lobby Day?

    We are all for wearing comfortable clothing and shoes on Humane Lobby Day. Casual clothes, including casual business attire, boots, and jeans are all acceptable. To make the best possible impression on legislators, we discourage wearing flip-flops, shorts, or gym wear

    Become A Sponsor!

    Would you like to be a Humane Lobby Day Hero by sponsoring a portion of the program? THLN Humane Lobby Day sponsorship opportunities include displaying the sponsor’s name on Humane Lobby Day materials and an opportunity to introduce a Guest Speaker.

    To become a sponsor or if you have any additional questions, please contact Shelby Bobosky: [email protected]

    WHEN
    March 23, 2023 at 8:30am
    WHERE
    Capitol Extension Auditorium (Room E1.004) - Texas State Capitol
    1100 Congress Ave
    Austin, TX 78701
    United States
    Google map and directions
    rsvp

  • Big Cat Public Safety Act Signed into Federal Law

    Originally Published in: The Times Freestone County
    Published on: 
    January 7, 2023
    Written By: Admin

    At the end of December, President Biden signed The Big Cat Public Safety Act (BCPSA) into law. The Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN) was instrumental in its passage and has advocated against the private ownership of wild animals, including big cats, since 2001 by helping to enact the Dangerous Wild Animal Act.

    “Texas law does not prohibit the private ownership of dangerous exotic animals, like tigers and lions, as pets,” said Shelby Bobosky, THLN’s Executive Director. “As a result, big cats suffer terribly and risk public safety. Just this year, Dallas Police found and seized a tiger cub caged in a Dallas backyard while serving a warrant. The animal was kept only two blocks from an elementary school and seized days before students returned to the classroom.”

    In the first 90 days of 2021 alone, four privately-owned big cats escaped their enclosures and roamed loose in Texas cities. During Hurricane Harvey, there were reports of wild animals wandering neighborhoods as their enclosures had been destroyed and local law enforcement didn’t have the tools to tranquilize and capture them humanely.

    “First responders should not have to apprehend 500-pound predatory big cats,” said Bobosky. “Passing the Big Cat Public Safety Act means less risk to our first responders and safer communities for all of us.”

    The BCPSA also ends cub petting operations and denies wildlife traffickers access to a pipeline of animals. It amends current federal law to prohibit the acquisition, possession, sale, breeding and transporting of big cats in Texas and across the country. Sanctuaries, accredited zoos, and research facilities would be exempt. Current owners of big cats will be grandfathered in so long as they register their animals with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service so that our first responders will know where they are located and who owns them.

    “Because Texas is the number one state for private ownership of big cats, THLN coordinated a coalition of Texas first responder associations, including the Texas Animal Control Association, Texas Municipal Police Association, and the Sheriff’s Association of Texas. Our coalition ensured our federal legislators understood public safety concerns with big cats in our communities. We also want to recognize Big Cat Rescue and Animal Wellness Action, our partners who pushed this Act to the finish line,” concluded Bobosky.

    “We applaud Senator Cruz and Senator Cornyn for helping secure the passage of the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which will keep families in suburbia safe from dangerous tigers and lions,” said Marty Irby, Executive Director at Animal Wellness Action. “After a decade of legislative work on the bill and tremendous publicity for the issue, cub petting will soon become a thing of the past in the U.S.,” said Irby.

    “For me, this fight for the big cats was never personal,” said Carole Baskin, President and Founder of Big Cat Rescue. “This was always about developing a national policy to shut down the trade in these animals as props in commercial cub handling operations and as pets in people’s backyards and basements,” said Baskin.


  • Thumbs: Tiger King Dethroned

    Originally Published in: Houston Chronicle
    Published on: 
    December 10, 2022
    Written By: The Editorial Board

    Thumbs Up: “Tiger King,” the Netflix documentary series that once boasted “murder, mayhem and madness” in episodes exposing the seedy, dangerous and abusive underworld of exotic animal exploitation, can now boast a more respectable claim to fame: catalyst for the long-sought passage of the Big Cat. Public Safety Act. A bill passed by the U.S. Senate and now headed to President Biden’s desk bans the private breeding and possession of lions, tigers, leopards and panthers by anyone not affiliated with a zoo, sanctuary or college. Current big cat owners can keep their animals provided they don’t breed them, allow public contact with them or fail to register them. Animal rights groups applauded the legislation, which may have an outsized impact in Texas, where exotic animal ownership is a concern illuminated locally by the story of India the Bengal tiger, who became an internet sensation after he was filmed roaming an upscale Houston neighborhood. He’s now living the good life at an animal sanctuary. “Texas has one of the highest populations of big cats in the country with numerous instances where these animals have escaped and injured and even killed people in our state,” Shelby Bobosky, who heads the Texas Humane Legislation Network, said in a press release. “Passing the big cat public safety act means less risk to our first responders and safer Texas communities for all of us.” She praised the support of the bill by Texas’ congressional delegation, including U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. We can hear the big cats across Texas roaring in approval.

    Read Full Article Here.


  • Representative Jared Patterson Files Bill to Halt Puppy Mill Pipeline into Texas

    Representative Jared Patterson Files Bill to Halt Puppy Mill Pipeline into Texas 
    HB 870 requires retail pet stores to source animals from shelters and rescues.

    AUSTIN, TX – On December 2, Representative Jared Patterson (R-Frisco) filed HB 870, which like its 2021 predecessor HB 1818, 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.

    “We are excited to work with Representative Patterson again on this issue. His early filing of the bill shows his dedication to halting the puppy mill pipeline into Texas and alleviating the burden on shelters of having an overwhelming number of healthy, adoptable pets in need of loving homes,” said Stacy Sutton Kerby, Director of Government Relations at THLN. “Representative Patterson, who also authored the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act that went into effect in January, has proven to be a true animal welfare champion time and again.”

    "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,” said Representative Patterson. “There’s a reason why only one of the top 25 retailers still sells dogs from these conditions. I’m proud to once again file HB 870 to provide the necessary restrictions to protect pets and their owners.”

    This year alone, Dallas, Houston, and New Braunfels passed ordinances like HB 870, demonstrating the need and support for a statewide law. If passed, HB 870 would not preempt local ordinances. Instead, the law brings consistency across Texas’ largest counties – those with a population of 200,000 or more – primarily suburban and urban areas. 

    “While 14 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,” said Kerby. 

    During the 87th legislative session in 2021, the bill received huge bipartisan support but ultimately couldn’t get past the finish line before the session ended. 

    “There is widespread support and momentum for this policy. HB 870 and its predecessor are great examples of how animal protection is a bipartisan issue. Texans do not endorse puppy mill cruelty and halting the puppy mill pipeline into our state reflects these values,” concluded Kerby.

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


  • U.S. Senate Passes Big Cat Public Safety Act with Help of Texas Senators, Legislation Now Awaits Biden's Signature

    Originally Published in: EIN Presswire
    Published on: 
    December 7, 2022
    Written By: Marty Irby | Animal Wellness Action

    Groups lobbied the Congress with Texas Humane Legislation Network to close out abuse of dangerous big cats in our communities

    We applaud Animal Wellness Action and Big Cat Rescue in passing this monumental legislation.”
    — Shelby Bobosky, executive director at THLN

     

    AUSTIN, TEXAS, UNITED STATES, December 7, 2022 /EINPresswire.com/ -- Today, Animal Wellness Action, the Animal Wellness Foundation, the Texas Humane Legislation Network, Center for a Humane Economy, and Big Cat Rescue announced the U.S. Senate passage of the Big Cat Public Safety Act, H.R. 263, last night by Unanimous Consent, completing Congressional work on the subject four months after the House passed the measure. The measure next heads to the President’s desk to be inked into law – a likely outcome given that White House has already provided public support for the bill.

    The groups commend Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Reps. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., for introducing the legislation in the 117th Congress, and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas for meeting with their coalition and allowing the measure to pass. The coalition, that also includes Carole Baskin from ‘Tiger King,’ also met with staff from the office of Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas on several occasions as well. U.S. Reps. Collin Allred, Kevin Brady, Joaquin Castro, Dan Crenshaw, Henry Cuellar, Lloyd Doggett, Veronica Escobar, Lizzie Fletcher, Sylvia Garcia, Vicente Gonzalez, Lance Gooden, Al Green, Sheila Jackson Lee, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Mike McCaul, Troy Nehls, Pete Sessions, Beth Van Duyne, and Marc Veasey all voted in support of the measure when it passed the U.S. House in July.

    “Texas has one of the highest populations of big cats in the country with numerous instances where these animals have escaped and injured and even killed people in our state,” said Shelby Bobosky, executive director at the Texas Humane Legislation Network. “Passing the big cat public safety act means less risk to our first responders and safer Texas communities for all of us. We applaud Animal Wellness Action and Big Cat Rescue in passing this monumental legislation.”

    “The Congress recognizes that chaos and cruelty result when people breed big cats for use as pets or for commercial petting operations,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Center for a Humane Economy. “We applaud the Senate and House for establishing a national policy to stop the trade and breeding of endangered lions and tigers as pets in homes and props at roadside zoos.”

    “We applaud Sens. Cruz and Cornyn for helping secure the passage of the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which will keep families in suburbia safe from dangerous tigers and lions,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action. “After a decade of legislative work on the bill and tremendous publicity for the issue, cub petting will soon become a thing of the past in the U.S.”

    “For me, this fight for the big cats was never personal,” said Carole Baskin, president and founder of Big Cat Rescue. “This was always about developing a national policy to shut down the trade in these animals as props in commercial cub handling operations and as pets in people’s backyards and basements.”

    The bill builds on the Captive Wildlife Safety Act, passed unanimously in 2003, which sought to ban the trade in big cats as pets. That original measure had a drafting flaw, and the Big Cat Public Safety Act seeks to correct that problem and to ban breeding big cats for the pet trade and for commercial cub petting.

    The bill had been introduced long before the salacious reality television series “Tiger King,” but that blockbuster Netflix program put the issue of private ownership of tigers and lions on the American radar screen. NBC’s streaming platform, Peacock TV, also featured the bill in its series “Joe vs. Carole,” released in March.

    Down from nearly 60 cub-petting operations just 10 or 15 years ago, there are now maybe two or three commercial such outfits in the United States. Nearly all cub-petters featured in “Tiger King” are incarcerated, have had their animals seized, or are facing prosecution.

    • Joe Exotic is serving 21 years in federal prison for 17 wildlife-related charges as well as murder-for-hire charges
    • Jeff Lowe, who took charge of Joe Exotic’s GW Zoo and intended to open a cub-petting operation in far eastern Oklahoma, had his operation raided by federal authorities, who brought civil charges against him. Lowe’s animals have been confiscated and placed at sanctuaries.
    • Tim Stark, another prominent Tiger King “star,” had his animals confiscated by the State of Indiana for multiple animal-related and nonprofit-operation violations. He fled the state after a criminal charge was filed and was arrested in New York.
    • Bhagavan “Doc” Antle was arrested on charges of money laundering. He’s also facing charges by the State of Virginia with 15 counts of wildlife trafficking and animal cruelty.

    The tigers and lions bred for the pet trade or roadside attractions never lead good lives. They typically live in substandard conditions, and in almost every case, their lives end tragically. We reduce these remarkable beasts to shadows of themselves in dilapidated roadside menageries or in backyards or basements. The people who acquire the animals on impulse or for profit almost always give them up because they cannot be safely managed by individuals without sufficient resources or professional staff.

    The Big Cat Public Safety Act is backed by the National Sheriffs’ Association, state sheriffs’ associations throughout the nation, the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Animal Care and Control Association, and countless other agencies and organizations.

    Animal Wellness Action is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) organization with a mission of helping animals by promoting legal standards forbidding cruelty. We champion causes that alleviate the suffering of companion animals, farm animals, and wildlife. We advocate for policies to stop dogfighting and cockfighting and other forms of malicious cruelty and to confront factory farming and other systemic forms of animal exploitation. To prevent cruelty, we promote enacting good public policies, and we work to enforce those policies. To enact good laws, we must elect good lawmakers, and that’s why we remind voters which candidates care about our issues and which ones don’t. We believe helping animals helps us all.

    The Animal Wellness Foundation (Foundation) is a Los Angeles-based private charitable organization with a mission of helping animals by making veterinary care available to everyone with a pet, regardless of economic ability. We organize rescue efforts and medical services for dogs and cats in need and help homeless pets find a loving caregiver. We are advocates for getting veterinarians to the front lines of the animal welfare movement; promoting responsible pet ownership; and vaccinating animals against infectious diseases such as distemper. We also support policies that prevent animal cruelty and that alleviate suffering. We believe helping animals helps us all.

    The Center for a Humane Economy is a non-profit organization that focuses on influencing the conduct of corporations to forge a humane economic order. The first organization of its kind in the animal protection movement, the Center encourages businesses to honor their social responsibilities in a culture where consumers, investors, and other key stakeholders abhor cruelty and the degradation of the environment and embrace innovation as a means of eliminating both.


  • 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


  • New Braunfels City Council votes 4-3 to ban sale of pets from commercial breeders

    Originally Published in: New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung
    Published on: 
    October 25, 2022
    Written By: Steve Knight

    New Braunfels became the 14th Texas city to adopt a pet sales measure after City Council members on Monday approved the final reading of an ordinance banning retail pet stores from selling dogs and cats from commercial breeders.

    New Braunfels now joins Austin, Bryan, College Station, Dallas, El Paso, Euless, Fort Worth, Houston, Pasadena, San Antonio, Sherman, The Colony and Waco as cities that have passed similar ordinances.

    The vote was 4-3, with Mayor Rusty Brockman, Mayor Pro Tem Harry Bowers and Council members Jason Hurta casting votes opposing the ordinance.

    The final vote came after more than an hour of sometimes emotional public comment and council member deliberations.

    The ordinance does allow a retail pet shop to sell, lease, offer for sale, trade, give away for consideration or transfer a cat or dog if obtained from an animal shelter or animal welfare organization.

    In addition, the ordinance requires pet shops to maintain a record of each cat and dog sourced from an animal shelter or animal welfare organization for at least one year from the date of sale or transfer and make those records available to the city upon request.

    The thinking behind the measure is the safety of animals and limiting the activity of commercial breeders, called puppy mills by animal advocates, defined by the Humane Society of the United States as “an inhumane, commercial dog breeding facility in which the health of the dogs is disregarded in order to maintain a low overhead and maximize profits.”

    The Humane Society of the United States estimates that 10,000 puppy mills are active in the country, and 500,000 dogs are kept solely for breeding purposes in puppy mills.

    The ordinance does not mention a specific business. Still, the focus of discussions over the last year between the city’s Animal Services Advisory Board members, council members, residents, animal welfare advocates and store owners had centered around the only store in New Braunfels that sells puppies, Puppyland, which began its operation in August 2021.

    As in previous meetings, owner Kayla Kerr continued to deny that the store sourced animals from unsafe and unethical breeders, stating that the store only sells animals from responsible USDA-licensed breeders, checks breeder inspection reports, and offers health warranties.

    In past meetings, Kerr explained that before the puppies come in-house, they all go to JAKS Puppies for microchipping and health checkups. Animal welfare advocates consider the Iowa-based facility a puppy mill or broker.

    “As written, your ordinance does nothing productive for pets or people anywhere,” Kerr said. “A ban will lead your residents to go to unregulated backyard breeders and parking lot sales. No rules, no regulations, no protection.”

    She added that the city “allowed us to spend a large amount of money to open our store. You guys gave us a kennel license, and then you decided you weren’t sure about us. If you want to better the pet industry, if you want to protect your citizens… let’s regulate it.”

    Kerr said the store had sold around 800 puppies since its opening with a less than 1% claim rate.

    But residents and animal advocates, some sporting red T-shirts with the message “Go Humane,” again came out in force to call on council members to pass the item, stating that current federal and state regulations do not adequately address the health and safety of dogs that come from commercial breeding facilities.

    Tanya Palmer, a business owner and member of the Advisory Board, told council members her comments during a previous meeting about the American Kennel Club in an earlier Herald-Zeitung story were misrepresented and wanted to make it clear that the organization does not ban breeders from selling to pet stores.

    “If one visits the website of the American Kennel Club, one of the oldest and most respected breed club registries in the world, one can access the breeder code of ethics on the website listed in their national parent club directory for AKC recognized breeds,” she said, “meaning that if you go to the website and access each individual code of ethics there — I never said AKC banned or prohibited sales to retail pet stores.”

    Palmer continued to advocate for the ordinance, stating that she “had objections” to not being able to see the mother and father on the premises, see the demeanor or interact with the parents, as well as not having any information about the breeder’s longevity.

    Stacy Sutton Kerby, director of government relations with the Austin-based Texas Humane Legislation Network, thanked council members for passing the first reading of the ordinance and added that the council’s action was part of a growing trend.

    “This effort here tonight is part of a bigger trend — since the last (state) legislative session, three Texas cities have passed pet store ordinances,” Kerby said. “And this is building momentum for possibly bringing statewide legislation again in 2023. Although we’ve seen this type of ordinance pass in a lot of different cities, no two cities are the same. They all had to examine their own unique set of circumstances. Like you, they sought input from their constituents, their animal advisory committees that were appointed by council, their city attorney’s offices and pet-centric business owners, and yet they all came to the same conclusion — that dogs and cats sold in pet stores should be humanely sourced.”

    The reaction from Puppyland owner Justin Kerr after the council’s action was one of what he described as an extreme disappointment, but he added that “we believe given time to review the facts, the truth will prevail.”

    “We understand the underlying concern about keeping animals safe. However, nothing in the proposed ordinance will accomplish this goal,” Justin Kerr said. “As reiterated by our veterinarian, Bryan Ruiz [Neighborhood Services Manager) and testimonials from our customers, none of our beloved puppies are in an NB shelter. Our offer stands to be part of the solution, and we urge the city council to revisit this issue to find a way to work together with regulations that raise the standards on the entire industry rather than pass an ordinance that shuts a single business down that is doing its work humanely.”

    Twenty-five employees work at the New Braunfels Puppyland location.

    The ordinance does not affect private residences not generally open to the public, animal shelters or facilities operated by animal welfare organizations.

    The ordinance defines animal welfare organizations as any non-profit organization with tax-exempt status under Internal Revenue Service regulations that takes unwanted, abandoned, abused or stray animals and places them into permanent or foster homes.

    The measure also amends the definition of a retail pet shop as a for-profit retail establishment or place of business where cats or dogs are sold, leased, offered for sale, traded or given away for consideration.

    The ordinance includes a one-year grace period.

     

    Image sourced from New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung


  • New Braunfels City Council to mull ban on allowing pet sales from commercial breeders

    Originally Published in: New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung
    Published on: 
    October 7, 2022
    Written By: Steve Knight

    New Braunfels City Council members on Monday will consider the first reading of a proposed ordinance amendment that would prohibit retail pet shops from procuring and selling cats and dogs from commercial breeding facilities.

    The proposed ordinance would only allow a retail pet shop to sell, lease, offer for sale, trade, give away for consideration or transfer a cat or dog obtained from an animal shelter or animal welfare organization.

    In addition, the proposal would require pet shops to maintain a record of each cat and dog sourced from an animal shelter or animal welfare organization for at least one year from the date of sale or transfer and make those records available to the city upon request.

    The proposed ordinance came to the attention of council members after the city’s Animal Service Advisory Board hosted several public hearings late last year and earlier this year and voted to recommend the item in May.

    The main concern behind the proposed amendment is the safety of animals and limiting the activity of commercial breeders, also called puppy mills, defined by the Humane Society of the United States as “an inhumane, commercial dog breeding facility in which the health of the dogs is disregarded in order to maintain a low overhead and maximize profits.”

    The Humane Society estimates that 10,000 puppy mills are active in the country, and 500,000 dogs are kept solely for breeding purposes in puppy mills.

    City code includes standards a business must achieve before they obtain a permit to operate a commercial animal establishment. However, the current ordinance does not provide any requirements for where the animals for sale are sourced.

    During past public hearings, the discussions between board members, residents, animal welfare advocates and store owners have focused on a local business, Puppyland, that began selling puppies from its New Braunfels MarketPlace storefront in August 2021.

    Humane Society of the New Braunfels Area Executive Director Sarah Hammond, a member of the Advisory Board, said it’s become clear that the area does not need any more dogs right now with the society’s shelter at full capacity or higher.

    “It’s become perfectly clear that the community is not able to care for the dogs that they have right now,” Hammond said. “The puppies are all coming from puppy mills — that has been irrefutably proven. Despite what the owners of Puppyland say, it is clear that those animals are coming from puppy mills, and those are inhumane breeding programs producing puppies as widgets. There’s no compassion. There’s no consideration. They’re just widgets getting shipped in a truck once a week.”

    Hammond added that puppies purchased at Puppyland are not ending up at the shelter. She said she did not believe there is a direct correlation between the store’s opening and the shelter’s overcrowding, but “the point is that we don’t want that element in our town because of its inhuman treatment of animals. That’s the crux of it.”

    Kayla Kerr, who owns stores in four states, has recently made several trips to New Braunfels from her Washington state home to defend her operation. She denies the accusations, stating that the store only sells animals from responsible USDA-licensed breeders, checks breeder inspection reports and offers health warranties.

    “We’re very involved with our breeders,” Kerr said. “We visit them frequently, and we’re looking for things like exercise programs, socialization programs, veterinary programs, retirement programs. We’re attending and continuing education with them. We’re assisting hands-on with a mobile vet doing health testing on them, meaning my hands are on the parent dogs. We really want to show people that our breeders love their dogs and they really want to breed healthy puppies.”

    Kerr said before the puppies come in-house, they all go to Iowa-based JAKS Puppies. Kerr describes JAKS as a holding facility, while store opponents and animal welfare advocates call it a puppy mill or puppy broker.

    A USDA inspection conducted this year indicated that JAKS had 113 puppies and no adult dogs at its property.

    “This is where they are going to get microchipped,” Kerr said. “They’re getting checked by a veterinarian, and then all of their paperwork is entered into a computer so that we have a digital copy of the paperwork when they arrive at the store.”

    Kerr added that they use special types of vans that contain ventilation systems, heating and cooling with trained staff ensuring the puppies are safe during transport.

    The amendment proposal would not affect private residences not generally open to the public, animal shelters or facilities operated by animal welfare organizations.

    The proposed amendment defines animal welfare organizations as any non-profit organization with tax-exempt status under Internal Revenue Service regulations that takes unwanted, abandoned, abused or stray animals and places them into permanent or foster homes.

    The proposal amends the definition of a retail pet shop as a for-profit retail establishment or place of business where cats or dogs are sold, leased, offered for sale, traded or given away for consideration.

    “We breed our dogs to be our companions, to depend on us 100%,” Hammond said regarding the dogs in the shelter’s care. “They can’t live on their own. It’s our responsibility to take care of them until the end of their life. Too many people are treating them as disposable.”

    If passed by the council members over two readings, the ordinance would go into effect after a one-year grace period.

    Also during Monday’s meeting, council members will issue proclamations recognizing Chamber of Commerce Week, Chiropractic Health Month and Texas Native Plant Week.

    Monday’s meeting will also include time for residents to address the council on issues and items of concern not on the agenda.

    A full agenda is available at www.newbraunfels.gov.

    The council session begins at 6 p.m. Monday in the council chambers at New Braunfels City Hall, 550 Landa St.

    The meeting will be televised live on Spectrum government access channel 21, AT&T access channel 99, and live-streamed at the city website, www.newbraunfels.gov.



  • Tigers are a big problem in Texas

    Originally Published in: The Dallas Morning News
    Published on:
    August 20, 2022
    Written By: Shelby Bobosky

    Tigers are not pets or props, but many Texans treat them as such. Just recently, Dallas police found and seized a tiger cub caged in an Oak Cliff backyard while serving a warrant. It’s not as uncommon as it may seem. Texas has one of the highest populations of big cats in the country with numerous instances where these animals have escaped and injured or even killed people in our state.

    In the first 90 days of 2021 alone, four privately owned big cats escaped their enclosures and roamed loose in Texas cities. During Hurricane Harvey, there were reports of wild animals wandering neighborhoods as their enclosures had been destroyed and local law enforcement didn’t have the tools to tranquilize and capture them humanely. First responders should not have to apprehend 300-pound predatory big cats. Those animals shouldn’t be kept as “household pets” in the first place.

    Big cats in community settings are an ongoing threat to pets and children. These animals cannot be domesticated, and the requirements for properly maintaining them are simply beyond the capabilities of the average person. Without proper laws in place, we will see more tragedies.

    The Texas Humane Legislation Network has advocated against the private ownership of wild animals, including big cats, since 2001 by helping to enact the Dangerous Wild Animal Act. The act has made a significant impact on public safety, but more can be done. Due to deficiencies in the current patchwork of municipal and state regulation, there is a pressing need to enact a federal law.

    The Big Cat Public Safety Act would amend current federal law to prohibit the acquisition, possession, sale, breeding and transporting of big cats in our state and across the country. Sanctuaries, accredited zoos, and research facilities would be exempt. Additionally, current owners of big cats would need to register their animals so first responders know where they are located and who owns them.

    Passing the Big Cat Public Safety Act would mean less risk to our first responders and safer communities for all of us. It would also end cruel cub petting operations and deny wildlife traffickers access to a pipeline of animals. Protecting these beautiful animals from cruelty is noble in and of itself while protecting Texans against the threat of backyard tigers is just plain common sense.

    The Big Cat Public Safety Act has passed the U.S. House and is on to the Senate. We are asking for support from Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn in recognizing this very real threat and working to mitigate it — for the safety and well-being of Texans as well as big cats.

    Shelby Bobosky is the executive director of the Texas Humane Legislation Network. She wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News.


  • A Big Win For Big Cats; Tampa Animal Advocate Carole Baskin Celebrates

    Originally Published in: Patch
    Published on: 
    July 30, 2022
    Written By: D'Ann Lawrence White

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — After lobbying for years to pass legislation to protect big cats, internationally known animal activist and founder of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Carole Baskin, is celebrating Friday's 278-134 vote by the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act (H.R. 263).

    Baskin said it's only appropriate that this legislation be passed on July 29, International Tiger Day.

    The passage of the bill is one of the highlights of her 20-plus-year battle to shut down roadside zoos profiting from the misery of lions, tigers and other big cats.

    The bill would prohibit people like one-time zookeeper Joe Exotic, featured in the hit Netlix series, "Tiger King," from operating roadside zoos where patrons are allowed to pet tiger cubs for a fee. It would also prevent zoos like the now-out-of-business Dade City's Wild Things from forcing reluctant tiger cubs to swim with patrons for a fee.

    Additionally, the bill, championed by Rep. Michael Quigley, D-Illinois, and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pennsylvania, would ban people from owning big cats as pets.

    While the two-season Netflix series attempted to discredit Baskin and fellow animal activists, it did manage to shed light on how cruelly and neglectfully tigers and other big cats are treated by roadside zookeepers who are more intent on turning a buck than ensuring the welfare of the animals in their care.

    Viewers were horrified to watch as Joe Exotic showed no qualms about beating and whipping tigers in his care while the cameras were rolling and making them live in small, barren cages in which they could barely turn around.

    During testimony before the House, animal experts described lions, tigers, panthers and other big cats that weren't fed properly, weren't allowed freedom to exercise or socialize, and received little or no veterinary care.

    Legislators heard about a tiger that was discovered tied up in a dirt-covered back yard with no food or water.

    They heard stories of how newborn cubs were ripped away from their mothers before they were weaned to pose for photos and petting opportunities with paying guests.

    They heard about tigers forced into semi-tractor trailer trucks with little ventilation and soaring outdoor temperatures for lengthy cross-country trips after being sold to other zoos or for personal pets.

    After filing suit against Dade City's Wild Things, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals received permission to inspect the privately owned zoo. However, before PETA inspectors could arrive, the owners, realizing they had more tigers than were permitted, sent more than a dozen of their tigers to Joe Exotic's GW Zoo in Oklahoma. During the trip, a pregnant tiger's cubs died.

    To make room for Wild Things' tigers, Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, removed 17 of his older tigers from their cages and shot them.

    Exotic, was eventually tried and sent to federal prison in Oklahoma for 21 years for not only shooting the 17 tigers but for trying to hire a hitman to kill Baskin.

    Although Joe Exotic claimed to have given away all the animals in his zoo to his partner, Jeff Lowe, before heading to prison, the court awarded Baskin the deed to his GW Zoo property. Baskin, her husband, Howard, and fellow animal advocates visited the property and uncovered mass graves containing animal bones on the property that was documented in the Discovery Channel program, "Carole Baskin's Cage Fight,"

    Earlier this month, Baskin spoke to hundreds of animal advocates at a conference hosted by the Humane Society of the United States in Washington, D.C., urging them to contact their Congressmen to support the Big Cat Public Safety Act. More than 100 animal advocates joined the Humane Society Legislative Fund to lobby Congress the following week.

    Click here to listen to The Animal Wellness podcast with Baskin.

    "The big cat breeding and cub-petting industry creates a cycle of never-ending misery for the animals involved," said Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Human Society of the United States.

    "In an effort to control the true wild nature of these poor captive animals, breeders and exhibitors mistreat the cubs from the day they are born," she said. "One paying customer after another handles the cubs, day in and day out, until they grow too big and dangerous. Then they have nowhere to go. Sometimes they are sold to roadside zoos, where they pace the confines of their cages, or they end up in basements or back yards as 'pets.' Others simply disappear."

    While the Netflix series focused on the flamboyant, country-singing Joe Exotic with his bleach blonde mullet haircut and extravagant tiger print costumes, Block said, "There are countless Joe Exotics out there. 'Tiger King' showed just a glimpse of why we need a swift end to the big cat breeding and cub-petting industry in the U.S. As long as cub-petting remains legal, nothing will prevent the next generation of profiteering con artists from casting vulnerable big cats to an uncertain fate."

    Sheriff Matt Lutz of the Muskingum County Sheriff's Office said it's not just an animal cruelty problem, it's a public safety issue. He told the House how his office was forced to shoot and kill dozens of exotic animals after their owner freed them from enclosures in Zanesville, Ohio, in 2011.

    "I've experienced the worst-case scenario first-hand, and it is a gut-wrenching experience to think about tigers, lions and other big cats on the prowl in such close proximity to our homes and our schools," said Lutz. "The tragedy in Zanesville highlighted the serious threat posed to our communities when private individuals are allowed to keep big cats in their back yards. Law enforcement does not receive training about how to handle these dangerous incidents, yet are the ones called to respond when disaster strikes."

    Since 1992, there have been at least 100 dangerous and cruel incidents involving big cats kept as pets or in private menageries.

    • In 2005, a tiger roamed loose for days before being shot and killed in Simi Valley, California.
    • In 2008, a leopard approached a woman in her yard in Neosho, Missouri.
    • In 2009, a 330-pound tiger was discovered in a back yard in Ingram, Texas.
    • In 2013, a 400-pound pet lion escaped in Fairfield Beach, Ohio.
    • In 2019, an escaped pet cougar was found lounging in a driveway in Parkland, Florida.
    • And in 2021, a juvenile tiger wandered through a Houston neighborhood.

    Click here for a complete list of big cat incidents presented to the House.

    "Ultimately, this legislation is about public safety," Quigley said. "Any American can imagine the danger that exotic cats can pose. These are predators, not pets. Law enforcement has long advocated for legislation that will keep dangerous wild animals out of their communities and reduce the risk to first responders and the animals themselves."

    He noted that law enforcement groups across the country, including the National Sheriffs' Association, the Fraternal Order of Police and the the National Animal Care and Control Association, supported the Big Cat Public Safety Act to protect both animals and people.

    "For too long, lax laws have allowed private citizens to own big cats," he said. "The animals subject to these grotesque conditions deserve better. I hope my colleagues in the Senate will swiftly take up this legislation, so we can make a difference for communities across the country and save these animals from a life of confinement and restriction."

    The companion bill, Senate Bill 1210, has nearly 50 co-sponsors.

    "It is an enormous expense to care for these animals and reckless behavior foists a massive long-term financial liability on animal sanctuaries," said Baskin. "None of these private big cat owners holds onto the animals for very long, and that means they get turned over to groups like Big Cat Rescue that have to take in these traumatized, often very unhealthy animals."

    "Breeders who pump out countless big cats for cub-petting are worse than puppy millers, placing unfunded mandates on animal rescues who have to clean up their mess and care for these majestic creatures once they've grown too big to exploit," said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action, who has spent years fighting for this legislation only to be disappointed when it hasn't passed. "We applaud House leadership for bringing this important measure that will help keep families in suburbia safe from abused big cats to a vote before the August recess."

    He said the bill was introduced long before "Tiger King." However, it took a "salacious reality television series" to finally put the abuse of big cats on America's radar.

    The Big Cat Public Safety Act builds on the Captive Wildlife Safety Act, passed unanimously in 2003, that sought to ban the trade in big cats as pets.


  • Halting the puppy mill pipeline in New Braunfels

    Originally Published in: New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung
    Published on: 
    July 22, 2022

    In August, the New Braunfels Animal Advisory Board will be voting on adopting a Humane Pet Store Ordinance for our beloved city. Such an ordinance would ensure all puppies and kittens purchased at New Braunfels pet stores would be humanely sourced from our local shelter and rescue groups. The Board should vote yes to send the proposed ordinance to the full New Braunfels City Council — and the council should pass and implement the ordinance.

    As a community we cannot support importing puppies from puppy mills, especially when our shelter, like so many across Texas, is overflowing, forcing adoptable, healthy dogs to be transported to other states or even worse, euthanized due to lack of space.

    Read Full Article Here.


  • Letter: Cruelty to animals may be sign of future violence

    Originally Published in: Times Record News
    Published on: 
    July 22, 2022
    Written By: Jan Herzog, Local Chapter President, Texas Humane Legislation Network

    Today an old friend and classmate was telling me and some other friends about her serial killer cousin who was executed in 1999. He’s featured in several true-crime series. Check out Southern Gothic: They Call Me Animal.  (**Trigger warning: torture of animals.) They grew up together. She was recalling how he would bury cats in the ground up to their heads and then run over their heads with a lawn mower, and hang cats from mesquite trees and throw knives at them, then leave them hanging till they died. I haven’t watched it all yet, but she remarked that the Southern Gothic episode left out his childhood, so it may not include these grisly precursors to his murder of humans. However my friend remembers them clearly. He was also a bully to his cousins, not surprisingly. I guess nobody reported these disturbing acts all those years ago.

    The young men who recently committed mass shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo, NY, both had a propensity for cruelty to animals, specifically cats, according to a June 29 article in Time. As these individuals often do, they had posted disturbing content online bragging about their deeds well before their shooting rampages, but again, I guess nobody reported it or took it seriously, even in this day and age. Maybe they just didn’t know where to report it, or maybe didn’t realize animal cruelty is a crime. Texans, including law enforcement, don’t always associate acts of cruelty against animals with acts of cruelty against people, even though the link between cruelty to animals in childhood and later acts of violence toward humans has been known, studied, and documented for many years.

    Texas Humane Legislation Network led an effort which resulted in strengthening our state’s animal cruelty law in 2017, making it one of the nation’s most effective animal cruelty laws. The law can only be effective, however, if animal cruelty witnessed online or anywhere is reported to appropriate officials AND if those officials are knowledgeable about the law and are willing to take action.

    Abuse of any animal is a serious crime in itself, and should be taken seriously and dealt with appropriately -- even if it never led to violence toward humans. But the fact that we know it DOES should be common knowledge for law enforcement officials. Unfortunately, there is now zero law enforcement training in dealing with cases of animal cruelty. We need to educate all law enforcement, animal control, and elected officials, as well as citizens, about the link between violence directed toward animals and toward humans.  Taking these cases seriously can save lives—both animal and in some cases, human as well.

    Sincerely,
    Jan Herzog, Local Chapter President, Texas Humane Legislation Network, Wichita Falls


  • Uvalde Leader News - Letter to the Editor

    Originally Published in: Uvalde Leader-News
    Published on: 
    July 20, 2022

    Warning Signs

    As we continue mourning the victims in Uvalde, a national and state conversation is underway about how to prevent such tragedies. There is a behavior that violent criminals frequently exhibit before they commit extreme acts against people: animal cruelty. If we report acts of animal cruelty and enforce animal cruelty laws, we could potentially identify those likely to commit even more violent and extreme crimes.

    The Uvalde shooter committed several acts of animal cruelty before he savagely gunned down 21 innocent lives. Months before the mass shooting, he publicly posted live videos of his torture of kittens and cats across social media platforms and boasted that he and his friends tortured animals “all the time.” Nobody reported it. In fact, people rarely report acts of animal cruelty, and they only become known after mass shootings or other violent crimes. In many cases, people aren’t aware of animal cruelty laws or where or how to report these heinous acts.

    In 2017, the Texas Humane Legislation Network led a successful effort to strengthen our state’s animal cruelty law, considered one of the most effective animal cruelty laws in the United States. But a law can’t be effective if animal cruelty witnessed online isn’t reported in real life. To date, Texans and law enforcement don’t always associate acts of cruelty against animals with acts of cruelty against people – yet both data and experience support the link between the two. We need to change that. 

    The warning signs these troubled individuals send to schoolmates, family members, and others in their social networks continue to go unreported. These gunmen have no problem incriminating themselves by broadcasting their felonious acts of cruelty against animals on social media.

    What can we do right now? We can educate. When law enforcement officials graduate from their respective academies in Texas, they have zero animal cruelty training. Let’s educate law enforcement, animal control officers, elected officials, and citizens on the link between animal cruelty and interpersonal violence.

    Shelby L. Bobosky
    Executive Director of the Texas Humane Legislation Network


  • Humane Pet Store Ordinances

    WHAT IS A HUMANE RETAIL PET STORE ORDINANCE?

    A humane retail pet store ordinance requires pet stores that sell dogs and cats to acquire those animals from humane sources – namely shelters and rescues. This takes puppy mill cruelty out of the equation and assures the purchaser their new pet is in good health.

    WHAT TEXAS CITIES HAVE HUMANE RETAIL PET STORE ORDINANCES?

    Austin, College Station, Dallas, El Paso, Euless, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Sherman, and Waco currently have Humane Retail Pet Store Ordinances. In the summer of 2022, New Braunfels and San Marcos began the process of updating their city ordinances to require humane sourcing of dogs and cats sold in retail stores. To see the Texas humane retail pet store ordinances that have already passed, go here.

    WHAT IMPACT DO THESE ORDINANCES HAVE?

    Humane retail pet store ordinances protect both pets and people. Puppies sold in retail pet stores are overwhelmingly sourced from large-scale commercial breeding facilities out of state. These facilities, which are notorious for putting profits over the health and welfare of the dogs they breed and sell, are commonly referred to as “puppy mills.” Their business model is to produce as many puppies as possible for shipment across the country.

    Studies show that puppies from these facilities are highly vulnerable to disease and defects before shipment and are compromised even more during transport. Puppies often arrive at their final destination dehydrated and sick. In addition to the grief of purchasing a sick pet, purchasers are often saddled with extremely high vet bills from caring for their sick puppy. A humane retail pet store ordinance will protect families from unwittingly purchasing puppies subjected to puppy mill cruelty.

    Lastly, consumers consistently complain of being duped into signing predatory lending agreements which include exorbitantly high-interest rates and balloon payments. In some cases, the contract includes an option to "repo" the pet if a consumer misses a payment. And the payments must be made even if the pet dies or is euthanized due to illness or defects. There is no puppy lemon law in Texas, so these consumers rarely seek legal recourse. When they do, the cost of bringing a civil suit far outweighs any possible damages they might collect if they manage to prevail in court. Humane retail pet store ordinances protect consumers from this type of fraudulent business practice.

    DOES TEXAS NEED A STATEWIDE HUMANE RETAIL PET SALES LAW?

    During the 2021 Texas Legislative session, a humane retail pet sales bill – House Bill 1818 - came close to passing. Legislators overwhelmingly supported the bill to stop the sale of sick, defective puppies to Texas consumers. The bill failed, but the problem persists. Texas needs a statewide humane retail pet sales law to halt the puppy mill pipeline into Texas.

    IF PET STORES DON’T SELL COMMERCIALLY BRED PUPPIES, HOW WILL I GET A PUREBRED DOG?

    Texas has hundreds of purebred rescue groups – you can find any type of dog you are looking for from toy dog breeds to working and show dogs. Of course, our motto is “adopt don’t shop”. But for folks who have their heart set on purchasing a particular type of dog from a commercial breeder, remember that a reputable breeder would never allow their puppies to be sold in pet stores. Ask to “meet the parents” by visiting the place where the breeding dogs are housed, and the puppies will live until they are ready to move in with you. After all, this is a new family member you’re adding to your household – you will want to be sure the puppy you’re going to fall in love with is coming from a healthy, cruelty-free environment and that your money isn’t supporting the puppy mill cruelty.

    HOW CAN YOU HELP STOP THE PUPPY MILL PIPELINE IN TEXAS?

    Sign up for our Action Alerts here and email [email protected] to find out how you can help!

    Want to learn more? See our Claims vs Facts here.

    Follow Us on Social Media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


  • THE ANIMAL POSSESSION BAN: PREVENTING FURTHER CRUELTY

    THLN has worked for decades to educate the public and lawmakers that certain types of animal abusers must be prohibited from possessing animals to prevent further cruelty. For example, people convicted of animal hoarding suffer delusions they are caring for the animals in their possession. In reality, hoarders continually collect animals while depriving them of basic needs like food and water. Animal hoarding is a severe mental illness with a nearly 100% recidivism rate, and the only way to prevent hoarders from engaging in further cruelty is to prohibit their access to animals.

    As another example, intentional violence toward animals is a reliable predictor the abuser will escalate to hurting humans. Decades of data show a strong correlation between animal abuse, family violence, and other forms of community violence. The National Sheriffs' Association identifies animal cruelty as "a gateway crime" because it is the number one predictor the abuser will graduate to committing assault, domestic violence, and homicide. In addition to predicting future behavior, engaging in animal cruelty is also a strong indication that the perpetrator is suffering from a mental health disorder or is the victim of abuse.

    A victory for Texas animals and communities: In 2021, THLN helped pass SB 48 / HB 91, known as "the Animal Possession Ban." The new law codifies judges' authority to prevent people convicted of animal cruelty from having further contact with animals. Additionally, a judge may order psychological counseling for o­ffenders. The Animal Possession Ban interrupts abuse so that animals, people, and the communities they live in are safer.

    To download the THLN Fact Sheet for the Animal Possession Ban, go here.


  • THE RELEASE OF NON-NATIVE SNAKES LAW OF 2021

    THLN supported HB 2326 – the Release of Non-Native Snakes Law of 2021. Before this law, non-native snakes were brought to Texas by reptile enthusiasts and exotic pet retailers. When some owners released non-native snakes from captivity, those snakes posed a grave danger to Texas native wildlife and ecosystems. The Burmese python (Python bivittatus) is a prime example of the destruction that a non-native species can cause. In Florida, Burmese pythons, formerly kept as pets and then released from captivity, now breed in the wild and number over 10,000. They threaten public safety, harm tourism, and are driving some mammal and bird species to extinction.

    HB 2326 protects Texas wildlife by prohibiting the release of Burmese pythons. Violators face a Class C misdemeanor, which can escalate to Class B for a subsequent conviction. The law went into effect on September 1, 2021.

    To download the THLN Fact Sheet for the Release of Non-Native Snakes in Texas Law, go here.


  • ADOPTION FEE SALES TAX EXEMPTION LAW

    In 2021, the Texas Legislature passed SB 197, exempting animal rescue organizations from paying sales tax on adoption fees. Previously, only nonprofit animal welfare organizations operating out of physical facilities qualifi­ed for the sales tax exemption. Because this was confusing and unfair, THLN advocated updating the tax code so that home-based rescue and foster organizations did not have to bear this undue tax burden.

    To be clear: rescue organizations don't sell animals for profi­t, and adoption fees comprise only a small part of their operating budgets. The majority of a rescue’s income comes from fundraising, and a legitimate rescue organization is in no way comparable to a pet retailer. Breeders and retailers that sell pets bred for profit typically sell those animals for hundreds or thousands of dollars. By contrast, volunteers who foster for rescues typically cover costs like pet food and supplies out of pocket. The Adoption Fee Sales Tax Exemption law points to the stark difference between “sales” and “adoptions” by eliminating the sales tax on activities that weren't commercial activities to begin with.

    A victory for Texas rescue pets: Going forward, shelters and home-based rescues alike can use their tax savings to save more Texas pets. The Adoption Fee Sales Tax Exemption law took effect on October 1, 2021.

    To download the THLN Fact Sheet for the Adoption Fee Sales Tax Exemption Law, go here.