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,”;
  • 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.