2021 Legislative Session

OUR 2021 LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES UPDATES

 

Saving the Texas Licensed Breeder Program 
House Bill 1560 preserved the Texas Licensed Breeder Program (LBP) which regulates large-scale commercial dog and cat breeders. The LBP came under Sunset review in 2020 and was recommended for abolishment. You may recall the LBP was created in 2011, per the passage of HB 1451, in response to routine seizures of hundreds of cruelly treated animals from large-scale dog-breeding operations or “puppy mills”. 

Those seizures were a burden on local law enforcement and municipal agencies, particularly in rural areas. After the LBP came into effect, there was a noticeable drop in the number of seizures, primarily because the LBP requires breeders to be inspected and meet basic standards of care. Had the LBP been abolished, we could expect a return to frequent large-scale seizures of cruelly treated animals by law enforcement. Per HB 1560, the LBP was maintained and those regulations stayed in force. 

You can report unlawful breeding or “puppy mill” activity by calling 800-803-9202 and/or filing a complaint at https://www.tdlr.texas.gov/Complaints/Default_Unlicensed.aspx (select Dog or Cat Breeders). 

The Safe Outdoor Dogs Act 
Senate Bill 474/ House Bill 873 - otherwise known as The Safe Outdoor Dogs Act - clarified requirements for the restraint of unattended dogs outdoors. The current law, located in Subchapter D, Section 821.101 of the Texas Health & Safety Code (Unlawful Restraint of Dog) is all but impossible to enforce due to vague language and a requisite 24-hour warning period. This warning period acts as a continual reset without consequences for violators and prevents law enforcement from taking action to assist distressed dogs when they encounter them. 

In short, unsafe tethering cannot be addressed in real-time, and instances of the same only escalate from proactive intervention under the Health and Safety Code to prosecution under the Texas Penal Code after severe cruelty has occurred. The bill had the full support of law enforcement and was co-sponsored by 100 legislators, in large part, because it removed the 24-hour warning period. It passed the House 83-32, the Senate 28-3, and went to the Governor for signature on May 29, 2021. On June 18, 2021, Governor Abbott vetoed SB 474.

The bill has been vetoed, but that will not stop us from working to protect Texas dogs. If you would like to work with us to change local tethering ordinances, please contact us. We encourage you to access the THLN Tethering Toolkit - a how-to guide for passing a local tethering ordinance. For more information about the six-year quest to save chained dogs in Texas with the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, go here.

     
     

The Courthouse Dogs Law 
House Bill 1071 - referred to as the Texas Courthouse Dogs bill - allows specially trained dogs to accompany certain witnesses during court proceedings in Texas courts. These witnesses are typically victims of violence or abuse, are frequently minors, and must recount traumatic events. Courthouse dogs provide comfort to those witnesses so crucial testimony gets into the record, and offenders can be held accountable. The Texas Courthouse Dogs law goes into effect on September 1, 2021. See the Courthouse Dogs Fact Sheet.

The Mandatory Microchip Scanning Law
House Bill 604 This bill - referred to as the Mandatory Microchip Scanning bill affects shelters, animal control agencies, law enforcement agencies that double as animal control, and rescues groups that care for stray and homeless pets. Pets in the custody of those entities must be scanned for microchips as soon as is practicable. Based on the experience of jurisdictions that have already implemented this policy, microchip scanning and “return in the field” will save shelter intake costs and boost reunification numbers. HB 604 goes into effect on September 1, 2021. See the Mandatory Microchip Fact Sheet.

The Adoption Fee Sales Tax Exemption Law
Senate Bill 197 This legislation is referred to as the Adoption Fee Sales Tax Exemption. Going forward, home-based rescue groups will be exempted from paying sales tax on pet adoption fees. Shelters and rescues that operate out of physical facilities (as opposed to home-based foster care) have been exempted for years. Now both types of animal welfare organizations - those that operate out of brick-and-mortar facilities and those that use private homes for foster care - will be exempt from sales tax on pet adoption fees. Funds previously paid in sales tax can now be used to serve more animals. This new law goes into effect on October 1, 2021.  See the Adoption Fee Sales Tax Exemption Fact Sheet

     
     

The Animal Possession Ban
Senate Bill 48 gives judges the discretion to prevent persons from possessing an animal if they are sentenced to community supervision for attacking an assistance animal, committing cruelty against non-livestock animals, dogfighting, or cockfighting. SB 48 also permits judges to require psychological counseling as a condition of supervision. Committing crimes against animals is the leading indicator that a person will perpetrate acts of violence against humans in the future. Thus, SB 48 will not only prevent offenders from harming more animals, it will also provide a path to treatment for offenders before they escalate to hurting humans. SB 48 takes effect on September 1, 2021.

Making the Release of Burmese Pythons Illegal in Texas
House Bill 2326 amended the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code by adding the Burmese python (Python bivittatus) to the list of snakes that may not be released from captivity in Texas. This invasive species has no natural predator in Texas and poses a devastating threat to our wildlife and economy. In Florida, where Burmese pythons formerly kept as pets now breed in the wild, they are driving native species to extinction, threaten public safety and negatively impact tourism. For more information on the regulation of snakes in Texas, please visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s website. HB 2326 goes into effect on September 1, 2021. Download more info here.

Dangerous Dog Appeals
House Bill 3340 amends the Health and Safety Code so that the owner of a dog deemed dangerous has a period of 10 calendar days from the date the order is issued to file a notice of appeal. The legislation was filed because there were concerns that a dog deemed “dangerous” could be destroyed before a person had time to appeal the order to destroy the dog. HB 3340 goes into effect on September 1, 2021.

For additional information or questions, please contact: 
Stacy Sutton Kerby at [email protected]

 

87th Legislative Session

Animal Bills THLN is Following

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE BILL INFORMATION CHANGES OFTEN DUE TO AMENDMENTS AND OTHER CHANGES AS IT MOVES THROUGH THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS. 

HOUSE BILLS

BILL: HB 91 - Lucio III District 38

Relating to conditions of community supervision for defendants convicted of certain criminal offenses involving animals.

COMPANION TO SB 48

BILL: HB 100 - Gervin-Hawkins District 120

Relating to a petition for a municipal animal control authority to manage dangerous dogs and aggressive dogs in the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the municipality.

BILL: HB 121 - Minjarez District 124

Relating to the adoption of cats and dogs previously used for research.

BILL: HB 279 - Rosenthal District 135

Relating to pet deposits or fees collected by landlords.

BILL: HB 316 - Buckley District 54

Relating to the advertising and labeling of certain meat food products.

BILL: HB 337 - Rosenthal District 135

Relating to the intake and disposition records of animal shelters and releasing agencies.

BILL: HB 386 - Pacheco District 118

Relating to the unlawful restraint of a dog; creating a criminal offense.

COMPANION TO SB 474 & DUPLICATE TO HB 873

BILL: HB 399 - Shaheen District 66

Relating to a dog's restraint and shelter.

BILL: HB 543 - White District 19

Relating to the regulation of working animals by a political subdivision.

BILL: HB 580 - Lopez District 125

Relating to requiring a consumer warning upon sale of certain household plants that are hazardous when ingested by canines.

BILL: HB 592 - Turner District 101

Relating to a sales and use tax exemption for animals adopted from or sold by animal rescue groups.

COMPANION TO SB 227

BILL: HB 604 - Noble, Stucky, Buckley, Thierry, Anderson District 89, 64, 54, 146 & 56

Relating to a microchip scan of animals in the custody of an animal shelter or releasing agency, including an animal rescue organization.

BILL: HB 652 - Paul District 129

Relating to notice of an epizootic infectious disease occurring in an animal shelter.

BILL: HB 674 - Ramos District 102

Relating to informing the public about the availability of provisions in protective orders, including provisions regarding pets and other companion animals.

BILL: HB 685 - VanDeaver District 1

Relating to the creation of a critical care protection program for veterinarian electric customers.

BILL: HB 708 - Shaheen District 66

Relating to creating the criminal offense of possession of an animal by a person who has been previously convicted of an offense involving animal cruelty.

BILL: HB 762 - Israel District 50

Relating to civil liability for removing certain individuals or animals from a motor vehicle.

BILL: HB 801 - Cortez District 117

Relating to a certification program for assistance animals; authorizing fees; imposing a civil penalty.

BILL: HB 873 - Collier District 95

Relating to the unlawful restraint of a dog; creating a criminal offense.

COMPANION TO SB 474 & DUPLICATE TO HB 386

BILL: HB 1071 - Harris District 8

Relating to the presence of a qualified facility dog or qualified therapy animal in certain court proceedings.

BILL: HB 1083 - King District 61

Relating to termination of the ownership interest in an animal impounded by an animal shelter.

BILL: HB 1480 - Cyrier District 17

Relating to the protection of animal and crop facilities; creating a criminal offense.

COMPANION TO SB 472

BILL: HB 1531 - Reynolds District 27

Relating to regulation by certain counties of roadside or parking lot vendors and solicitors.

BILL: HB 1560 - Goldman District 97

Relating to the continuation and functions of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.

COMPANION TO SB 714

BILL: HB 1636 - Sherman, Sr. District 109

Relating to allowing therapy or facility dogs to accompany a child or a person with a disability during testimony in certain criminal cases.

COMPANION TO SB 492

BILL: HB 1677 - Holland District 33

Relating to the establishment of the Texas Police Service Animals Memorial Monument in the Capitol Complex.

BILL: HB 1818 - Patterson District 106

Relating to the source of dogs and cats sold by pet stores; providing a civil penalty.

BILL: HB 1941 - Goodwin District 47

Relating to the use of certain devices to train or control the behavior of an elephant; creating a criminal offense.

BILL: HB 2217 - Price District 87

Relating to the misbranding of certain food.

BILL: HB 2277 - Rogers, Buckley, Price District 60, 54 & 87

Relating to the protection of animal and crop facilities; creating a criminal offense.

BILL: HB 2326 - Frullo District 84

Relating to the possession, transportation, and release of certain nonindigenous snakes; increasing a criminal penalty.

BILL: HB 2510 - Noble District 89

Relating to a sales and use tax exemption for animals adopted from or sold by nonprofit animal welfare organizations.

COMPANION TO SB 197

BILL: HB 3057 - Gervin-Hawkins District 120

Relating to the regulation of licensed dog and cat breeders.

BILL: HB 3340 - Swanson District 150

Relating to the appeal of certain orders regarding dangerous dogs.

BILL: HB 3798 - Minjarez District 124

Relating to county and municipal housing authority pet policies.

BILL: HB 4049 - Cyrier District 17

Relating to dangerous wild animals; providing penalties; creating a criminal offense; authorizing a fee.

BILL: HB 4511 - Morales District 74

Relating to the animals classified as dangerous wild animals.

SENATE BILLS

BILL: SB 48 - Zaffirini District 21

Relating to conditions of community supervision for defendants convicted of certain criminal offenses involving animals.

COMPANION TO HB 91

BILL: SB 197 - Nelson District 12

Relating to a sales and use tax exemption for animals adopted from or sold by nonprofit animal welfare organizations.

COMPANION TO HB 2510

BILL: SB 227 - Paxton District 8

Relating to a sales and use tax exemption for animals adopted from or sold by animal rescue groups.

COMPANION TO HB 592

BILL: SB 472 - Kolkhorst District 18

Relating to the protection of animal and crop facilities; creating a criminal offense.

COMPANION TO HB 1480 

BILL: SB 474 - Lucio District 27

Relating to the unlawful restraint of a dog; creating a criminal offense.

COMPANION TO HB 592 

BILL: SB 492 - West District 23

Relating to allowing therapy or facility dogs to accompany a child or a person with a disability during testimony in certain criminal cases.

COMPANION TO HB 1636

BILL: SB 714 - Buckingham, Hall, Lucio, Paxton District 27, 24, 2 & 8

Relating to the continuation and functions of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.

COMPANION TO HB 1560