Current Issue: Texas HB 1451 – More bad government

Texas Legislators are currently attempting to pass a bill regulating dog breeders in Texas, Texas HB1451 (authored by Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) and staunchly supported by Sen John Whitmire (D-Houston). While this sounds commendable on the surface, and we all would like those who abuse and irresponsibly breed animals to rot in jail, this new bill is just another political move to appear to care about dogs while mostly punishing the responsible people.

We seem to have a law epidemic in this country. We pass laws prohibiting certain behaviors, and when those laws are ignored and broken, we pass more laws rather than enforce the ones we have. To give a recent examples of what I write, after the disturbing and horrible shootings in Arizona that, thank God, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords miraculously survived, there was a slew of proposed new gun control legislation. One of such proposals was to prohibit anyone from carrying a weapon within x number of yards of any elected official. Good idea? Well, of course if that law had been in place, certainly the gunman would have heeded it and NOT brought his gun. Hmmm…Don’t we already have laws that say, thou shall not shoot people? All the law-abiding citizens already abide by the thou shall not shoot people law and they would also be the only people who abide by any law telling them where exactly they can carry one. Result? You still have a lunatic shooting unarmed citizens.

HB 1451 is really no different. My litmus test for the effectiveness of this bill is “Will it stop Jim Bob in East Texas from feeding Min Pins to his alligators and selling the rest?” Of course not. People who abuse and exploit animals are already breaking every animal cruelty law on the books. But guess what….We don’t have the money and resources to ENFORCE the laws we already have!

What HB 1451 is creating is more laws that only the reputable breeders will be subjected to and will create more pointless paperwork to overburden the government system and take away from the already scant resources that should be used to stop the animals abusers that are already breaking existing laws!

Responsible breeders, like the ones I purchased three of my dogs from would both fall under this HB 1451. For them, raising, training, and showing dogs is a hobby and passion. They love their dogs and their puppies are born and raised in their homes. Trying to get a dog from these responsible breeders is like trying to adopt a child. They talk to you, they interview you, you go to their home. They LOSE money on their hobby because raising dogs properly, as those who own them know, is an extremely expensive endeavor. I am still in regular contact with both breeders I got my dogs from, and they are always there to help. Putting extra burden and cost on these dedicated people who are already monitored by the AKC and private people like me is a total waste of taxpayer money and government resources. Please, let’s be serious about enforcing our animal cruelty laws, not punishing those that love dogs!

HERE ARE SOME MAJOR PROVISIONS OF THE BILL

Provisions of House Bill 1451

• Defines a breeder as anyone who possesses 11 or more intact females. Simply
owning a certain number of intact dogs does not indicate a large-scale breeding
operation. This definition may encompass many small hobby breeders or
sportsmen who produce only one or two litters a year.

—  This would definitely hit the small hobby breeders that I refer to.  They may have 4 females that they are showing plus a litter they are raising and young adults that are being groomed to prepare for showing.

• Mandates an unannounced inspection by the Texas Department of Licensing
and Regulation (TDLR), or their designee every 18 months. Due to the low
thresholds in the bill, many of the breeders who will be licensed are not
commercial operations and do not have regular business hours. Often, these
people utilize their homes to breed their dogs. The AKC believes that to ensure
that privacy and due process rights are protected, inspections, especially of private
residences, should be performed pursuant to a warrant. Further, as these
inspections are unannounced, it is unclear what would happen if a breeder is not
at home when an inspector has gone to the expense of traveling to visit them.

— This I find unconstitutional, a blatant violation of the 4th Amendment that reads:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

— As I mentioned, responsible breeders are NOT businesses.  They are people who raise dogs in their home.  This is a bold-faced run-around the Warrant requirement.  Yes, proponents surely argue that breeders ELECT to raise dogs thus forfeit their right to the 4th Amendment.   Really?  It’s that easy to lose your constitutional rights?

–Do you think the puppy mill abusers will actually register with the state?  COME ON

• Allows TDLR to charge an unspecified fee for licensure and inspection. The
measure says fees should cover the cost of establishing and implementing an
inspections program. HB 1451 further allows a tiered licensing schedule based on
the number of dogs owned, but the cost may be excessive for someone who
breeds only a litter or two a year. The fiscal note anticipates that this program will
cost over $1.3 million to implement, with the full cost borne by the breeders. If
the board’s estimate of one thousand breeders is close to accurate (and we believe
this number to be high), then individual licenses are likely to cost thousands of
dollars annually.

Another tax on law-abiding people who love dogs. A punitive tax on those who care for their dogs, and more money going to the state instead of to the dogs.  Again, do think for a second that the Jim Bob Weems of the world will register and pay?  HA!

  • Oh and one other clause, it said they would offer monetary payment to anyone turning in someone whose dogs were found to be in need and seized. Meaning in this exonomic downturn times anyone needing money or not liking that you have dogs could cause you trouble and have incentive to do so.

I want everyone to think long and hard about this portion of the bill.  Have you ever had a neighbor that didn’t like your dog?  What about some random deadbeat that wants to make some extra cash?  Do you want someone knocking on your door to take away your dogs just because someone made a phone call? This is an outright assault on dog ownership and it must be exposed as such.  Those who conceived this monstrosity are actually against pet ownership.  Those of us who love dogs must be afraid of the government taking complete liberties to infringe on our rights.

PROPOSED AMENDMENT CONCERNS

Now the state has so kindly decided to propose some amendments.  More documentation, more burden, more arbitrary numbers that again, ONLY affect those who don’t need to be policed.

Exemption 1: One proposed amendment is a possible exemption for AKC inspected breeders.

The following is a statement from the AKC:

“AKC inspections are conducted to maintain the integrity of the AKC purebred registry, and to ensure that care and conditions of the dogs and the facility in which they are housed are in compliance with our extensive Care and Conditions Policy. Our standards are based on accepted animal husbandry practices and our inspectors have extensive experience in breeding and raising dogs. However, these inspections are specialized based on standards approved by our elected board members. We would oppose any attempt to have our inspections process altered or regulated by a state agency.

Additionally, it is unclear how such exemptions would be administered. Due to our existing privacy policies and our responsibilities to our registrants, the AKC would oppose any provision that required us to provide a list of the breeders we inspect.”

Exemption 2: The next possible exemption is for individuals who breed dogs for competition.  Again, the state government (people who probably can’t train a dog to sit) are deciding what the definition of a competition dog is.

Statement from the AKC

“Concerns with a possible exemption for individuals who breed dogs for competition
Most competition dogs are also companion animals and it is unclear what exactly would qualify a dog as a competition animal. The bill does not specify how frequently a dog would have to compete to be defined as a competition dog. Specific timeframes can be problematic as there are a number of reasons why a dog may not compete for a period of time, such as:
Whelping of a litter or the presence of unweaned puppies
Health of the owner or family members
Financial or work situations which prohibit travel for a period of time
Many dogs are not mature for showing until they reach the age of two or even older.
Although some competitors choose to campaign their dog, many retire them after they obtain a championship. As the intent of a conformation dog show is to identify the best breeding stock, these dogs are presumed to be among the best representatives of their breeds and are often used in breeding programs. From this language it is unclear how a retired show dog would be treated.”

IN CONCLUSION

I see nothing in this bill that actually helps the hundreds of dogs suffering right now in the hands of unscrupulous people who are abusing and breeding dogs with no concern for the animals.  This is, rather, a complete assault on the people who actively participate in dog sports, shows, and competitions.

MY STATEMENT TO THE STATE OF TEXAS:  If you really want to help dogs, why not start with Canton Trade Days?  The entire section of a flea market FILLED with puppy mill puppies.  Everyone knows it, but there is NO ENFORCEMENT to stop it.  That’s where you go to find your stolen dog too.  Does that sound like law-abiding folk?  No, I don’t think so.  I don’t even know if Jim Bob Weems was ever stopped.  BEEF UP YOUR ANTI-CRUELTY LAWS and provide the funding and support to ENFORCE them. And, if you need more laws to get the Canton Trade Puppy millers…then make the laws specific.  No casting a drag-net of overwhelming inefficiency and waste.

I can only imagine how many complaints are reported like my friend that reported Jim Bob.  Here is an idea, take those reports of abuse and puppy mills, INVESTIGATE, get a warrant like our Constitution requires, and then go arrest those pathetic excuses for human beings and have laws that let us throw them in jail to rot like they do to their dogs.

PLEASE CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE and tell them to stop this HB 1451 foolishness and get serious about protecting our animals from cruelty and abuse. Enough political games.

CLICK HERE to contact your representative.

BILL AUTHOR  Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston)

HB 1451 is opposed by: American Dog Breeders Association; American Kennel Club; Animal Owners Association of Texas; Endangered Breeds Association; National Animal Interest Alliance; RPOA Texas Outreach and Responsible Pet Owners Alliance; Sportsmen’s and Animal Owners’ Voting Alliance; United Kennel Club; U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance; and many more local and national organizations.

5 thoughts on “Current Issue: Texas HB 1451 – More bad government

  1. Hello,
    After reading your posts I understand your concerns with HB 1451. However it seems to me that anyone with no intention of being a breeder would keep 11 intact female dogs especially if also keeping intact male dogs. Not to mention the fact that virtually all cities have limits on the number of animals that may be kept in a private home that makes keeping even 11 dogs illegal already.

    I point this out simply to show my reasoning in forming my opinion that this bill could have some good points in it. Basically I feel it would allow the authorities who enforce the laws to have a better grasp on the number and location of commercial breeders. This would allow them to enforce the laws existing and new more effectively and efficiently. It would allow better oversight and do more to ensure the welfare of the animals in these locations.

    I believe it also would help to reduce the number of irresponsible breeders due to weeding out those with a criminal history involving animals. Which should allow law enforcement to better handle the problem cases when they arise or are identified.

    Basically since no responsible breeder would violate the law by keeping to many animals in to small an area nor in unhealthy conditions, then I see this bill as a good tool to help promote responsible breeding and responsible dog ownership.

    Unfortunately the breeding industry just as the large dog industry/groups have to date refused to self regulate or work with the proper agencies to help combat these problems. The end result is stricter, more tightly bound restrictions on the industry.

    It is the same in many issues such as the massive Pit Bull problem in Texas and elsewhere. All the owner groups and industry groups fight any efforts to formulate any guidelines to ensure public safety, animal welfare and promote responsible ownership.

    The bottom line is that as long as any group ( whether it be breeders, owners, supporters or whomever) refuses to work with others in controlling a problem, as long as they fight every attempt to find any solutions and as long as they refuse to see the reality of the situations. Then harsher laws, oversight and enforcement will be the final result of their actions.

  2. Hi Douglas,
    Thanks for the comment! I do agree with you that instead of just fighting back, we all need to work together to come up with a solution. You had a good point, if we all just stand staunchly in our positions, we end up with the untenable positions of do nothing and overdoing it. Neither positions end up helping the animals. The silly thing is we all WANT the abuse to stop.

    I am also aware of the regulation regarding the number of animals allowed in the city. The show/competition people I am acquainted with live outside city limits, so it probably doesn’t apply to them. They are all very law abiding people so I am certain they are not breaking any existing laws.

    You are also correct in saying that someone who isn’t breeding does not have 11 dogs. The show/competition people do breed, but very very selectively. They are the only people who should be allowed to breed dogs. That’s where my problem with the law really comes in. I feel like it punishes the only group of people that work so hard on keeping the breeds healthy. As I mentioned, it is not a business to them, they lose money. It’s their passion and hobby. It makes them very angry when people make comments about making money breeding dogs!

    They have more than 11 dogs because they do breed 1-2 litters a year generally from their best dogs that they spend thousands of dollars on traveling the country doing competition and shows with. They only sell young puppies that have obvious faults that preclude them from breeding, and the rest they keep to show and observe their behavior, disposition and physical characteristics. Ultimately, they only breed the best ones and eventually carefully re-home for the rest. They do sell their dogs, but compared the money they spend on them, it is merely a way to support and afford the very expensive hobby.

    When you buy one of their dogs, you have to sign a contract agreeing to the care of the dogs and to return the dogs to them in the event you do not want to or cannot care for them. They also require that the dogs are spayed/neutered either before they leave or by a certain age because the absolutely do not want their dogs used for breeding. They really do interview and vet every person they sell to. These are the people we should support, not punish. Yes, they have a lot of dogs, but each and every one of them are in incredible condition. I honestly don’t know how they keep them all so nicely groomed all the time. I have a hard time with my four.

    While I am not one of this group, I have gotten very acquainted with them and have learned so much from them as I get more involved in dog training. They are fountains of knowledge and really help us all have happier, healthier dogs.

    Now, how to stop the backyard breeders and puppy mills? We all need to agree to find a solution. We also need to find a solution for the millions of puppies born because owners are too irresponsible to spay and neuter, or heck, even build a fence. I want to hear a solution that targets all these people. Unfortunately, the way this bill written, it only has serious effect on the good people I describe and very little on all these other irresponsible, selfish, and abusive people. I will do more thinking on a solution as well!

  3. There are many issues with this bill. Below are a few.

    1. HB1431 was written by people who have virtually no understanding of the industry they intended to regulate. While we do not question their intent, they made a mess of things.

    2. The exemptions provided for sporting dogs removed many thousands of hunting ranches, shooting preserves, outfitters and guides from bearing the burden of regulation. However, there are additional tens of thousands of existing and new businesses in Texas providing day care, boarding, rescue, veterinary and grooming services that would be covered under HB 1431, since they “possess” more than 20 intact dogs on most days and will have puppies on site in the normal course of business. HB1431 did not intend to regulate these pet oriented industries, but the plain language of the statute is so broad that only enlightened bureaucratic interpretation could exclude them.

    3. Thus, the cost of regulatory enforcement of HB1431 has been vastly understated. It is not regulating commercial breeders. It is regulating the entire pet industry. This was not the stated intent of the “Puppy Mill Bill.” The broad, sweeping language of the bill requires bureaucratic interpretation and development that will unreasonably empower unelected civil servants, and create the need for hundreds of new state employees.

    4. The pet industry has proved to be a recession proof segment of the economy, with strong growth during a period of economic distress. While the more successful of those types of businesses are the ones providing the highest level of care, the vast majority of those businesses are mom & pop, owner operated small businesses. The additional regulation and fees associated with HB1431 will place financial hardship on the smaller business and inhibit growth of the larger businesses.

    5. The 2nd amendment parallel is real. It is not right to restrict constitutional gun ownership rights of law abiding citizens after a deranged gun fires randomly into a crowd. Neither is it right to infringe on pet ownership rights of law abiding citizens after a cash strapped breeder breaks animal cruelty laws. We should punish the offender, not the rest of society. The proper response to this problem is to increase penalties for animal cruelty, not to set forth to regulate tens of thousands of pet oriented businesses.

    6. The rescue aspect in para 2 should not be underestimated. If this bill is signed into law, it will provide disincentive for responsible breeders to provide rescue services, since they would face either bearing the cost of spay/neuter, or risk being pushed up past the threshold for regulation. This will increase the numbers of animals winding up at municipal kill shelters, at taxpayer expense.

    And a few more points:

    · HB 1451 is an unnecessary overexpansion of government. Animal Cruelty Code is already in place and effectively allows law enforcement to investigate and prosecute bad actors. (See Texas Public Policy Foundation Analysis attached)
    · HB 1451 punishes law abiding Texas citizens who care the most about dogs and cats by charging them high fees to continue doing what they are already doing in compliance with the law.
    · HB 1451’s true stakeholders were not allowed meaningful input into the drafting of the legislation.
    · HB 1451 decreases business and the economy. Most responsible breeders and hobbyists will decrease their numbers of animals and there will be a subsequent decrease in spending on products, care, veterinary services, hotel accommodations and other boosts that animals and related events provide to the local and state economy. The billion dollar industry represented by the animal industry will take a major hit. House Resolution No. 89 in Pennsylvania is indicative of this.
    · HB 1451 is an unfunded mandate down to the local level and such legislation has been an expensive boondoggle in other states. HSUS and other animal rights groups went toTennessee claiming a pressing need for “Puppy Mill” legislation. After an expenditure of 1 Million dollars, one year after implementation of the statue there are now 13 Licensed Breeders in Tennessee.
    HB 1451 would appear to be true “Animal Rights” legislation putting animals rights above the rights of law abiding Texas citizens, health and human budgetary needs and the overall Texas Economy. HB 1451 does not accomplish it’s stated intent and punishes many good people in the process.

  4. I’m sorry you feel profiting from work with animals is irresponsible you must have listened to too many inane animal rights activists. Tell me do you work for free? Do veterinarians and physicians work for free? – Isn’t it immoral to profit off the sick and dying?

    Show breeders have caused an enormous amount of trouble for themselves with their holier than thou attitude. Occasionally I show, too, and I profit from the sale of my puppies. I love what I do but I couldn’t be up day and night house training puppies and tending to my dogs if I had a separate full time job outside my home to go to. That doesn’t even make sense.

  5. Karen – I think you have misinterpreted the spirit of the argument, and possibly this is because I was not clear in the distinctions I was drawing. I did use hobby breeders as an example, but I am not saying that making a living off your dogs is a cardinal sin IF you are the type of person who is doing it because you love your dogs. People like you who house train your puppies and take the time to raise them so they make great, healthy pets for the people who buy them are precisely the people I am standing up for. I think it is ideal that the people who raise dogs, be with the dogs. It’s people like you that this particular law will penalize. I do want to be clear that I do not believe that animals are a way to make a living in the same way as other jobs are. Dogs require a great deal of attention, and those people who try to turn raising dogs into a profit center by churning them out in large numbers with no care for the animals are the ones that SHOULD be penalized, but really will not be deterred from their practices by this law. There are many people out there that want to make money off dogs and increase their profits by churning out more dogs for more dollars. More than can be properly cared for and trained, and certainly not in their homes and housebroken. This law will simply take more money out of YOUR pocket to make it harder for you to continue to raise dogs the right way.

    Thank you for being the kind of person who should raise dogs and spending the time necessary to train them and raise them in your home. I hope you make enough money providing quality dogs to good homes to continue to do it.

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