Last week a raid on an alleged puppy mill in Texas discovered 50 dogs living in filthy urine soaked pens without access to food or water. The owner of the property, Margaret Boyd, had been convicted of animal cruelty in 2009 after 500 dogs were seized from her breeding facility when they were found living in squalor.
After reading this news you would think the passage of H.B. 1451, the Texas Puppy Mill Bill, would be a slam dunk for legislators, but that is not the case.
The bill which was introduced by Representative Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) and passed in the House in such a heated debate, it may not make it to the Senate for a vote before the session ends.
The controversy has gotten so bad, its strongest opponent Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) refers to the bill as “dog Gestapo.”
H.B. 1451 is actually pretty tame in comparison to some of the regulations in the 33 states that have already passed legislation for dog breeders. The requirements are:
- Breeders must obtain a license if they have 11 or more breeding female dogs or cats.
- Breeders must provide enough space in an enclosure for an animal to comfortably stand, sit, turn around and lie down in a natural position.
- Cages cannot be stacked to prevent feces and urine from higher cages falling onto lower ones.
- Each breeding animal would be examined by a veterinarian once a year.
- A criminal background check would be completed for each applicant.
- Each licensed facility would be inspected annually.
Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States told the Houston Press:
“Representative Thompson has worked closely with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation…on the bill’s language to ensure that the regulatory system set up within the bill will be implemented and enforced. In addition, HB 1451 allows for Third Party Inspectors to assist with performing the inspections and with enforcement of the provisions within the bill. These third party inspectors will be employees of other state agencies and local law enforcement or fire departments.”
Even with all of this diligent work, Simpson managed to knock the bill off the House calendar twice before it finally passed with a vote of 95-44. He complained the legislation would be a financial hardship for the state and wouldn’t stop animal abuse.
Pacelle reminded everyone that Texas already has an Animal Cruelty Statute to address the mistreatment of animals. He calls the Puppy Mill Bill a “proactive measure — which ensures that the animals are provided basic humane treatment on a day-to-day basis.”
The future of H.B. 1451 may ultimately come down to political influence. Rep. Thompson is the “second-most-senior” member of the House, serving since 1973. Since passing the House, the bill has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice chaired by Sen. John Whitmire (D).
Take Action /There are several ways to help.
Texans who want to make their opinion about HB 1451 known to Sen. Whitmire should contact him at: John.firstname.lastname@example.org. The Animal Law Coalition also recommends writing or faxing letters to the Texas state senator for your area. Click Here to find your representative.
Note: The dog pictured above was rescued from last week’s puppy mill raid. The suggestion for this story came from a Care2 member who read: Convicted Animal Abuser Busted For Owning Puppy Mill
Photo from: Animal Rescue Corps