Jun 6, 2020
We wanted to immediately alert you to a disturbing development: the Texas legislature is preparing to gut the state program that prohibits puppy mills. If you are one of the animal lovers who helped us pass the 2011 Texas Dog & Cat Breeder Act to regulate the conditions in large-scale animal breeding facilities, or one of the many Texans who understand that if unregulated, large scale breeding facilities become inhumane puppy mills producing dogs for profit in the cruelest condition, we know you will share our alarm.
You may be wondering how this is happening now, when the legislature isn't even in session. By law, Texas requires a "Sunset Review" of state agencies every 12 years to determine whether that agency should continue to exist. During that process, programs and departments within the agencies under review can be changed or abolished. The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) is currently under review and must be reauthorized by the Legislature during the 2021 Session. In advance of the vote, the Sunset Commission reviews the agencies in depth and makes recommendations through a Staff Report. That report was just released.
During the review process, THLN provided information and data demonstrating the importance of the program licensing and regulating large scale commercial dog and cat breeders created by the 2011 passage of The Dog and Cat Breeder Act. Despite that, in the Sunset Staff Report, the Sunset Commission advised that the breeder program is not necessary to protect the Public and therefore states that the breeder program "could be safely eliminated."
Elimination of the program would certainly NOT be safe for the dogs in large scale breeding facilities, the puppies produced for profit without even the minimum care, and the unsuspecting public defrauded through puppy store sales of puppies with serious illnesses and health conditions. It's our job, just as it was in 2011, to remind legislatures of the risks.
Under the current program, and as defined by The Texas Dog and Cat Breeder Act, large scale breeders are required to provide basic protections for thousands of dogs and cats confined and raised in large scale breeding facilities by requiring humane housing and care standards and needed veterinary care. Because a law doesn't work unless it can be enforced, the TDLR Breeder Program requires periodic inspections and annual veterinary care. 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. If a breeder is operating without a license but meets the requirements for licensure, the business will be subject to enforcement actions, including administrative penalties and sanctions.
As we develop a plan to move forward, our goal is to protect this incredibly important program, which was created by the legislature with the support of thousands of Texans. An administrative review should not be able to deconstruct and dismiss a law that was passed by the legislature, and a program that is critical to protecting animals and humans of Texas. And we can't make forward progress if we are forced to start all over with a fight we already won.
We will have more information to share with you in the days and weeks to come as we continue to analyze the report and prepare an outreach plan. We did not want to waste any time in alerting you about this important development.