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
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.”
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.