TVMA Supports Solution to Puppy Mills in Texas

Elizabeth Choate
Director of Government Relations/
General Counsel
8104 Exchange Drive
Austin, TX 78754
Phone: 512/452-4224
Fax: 512/452-6633
Email: echoate@tvma.org

February 17, 2011

TVMA Supports Solution to Puppy Mills in Texas

Austin—Today, Thursday, Feb. 17, Representative Senfronia Thompson filed House Bill 1451, supported by the Texas Veterinary Medical Association, concerning commercial breeders.

Many are horrified by the puppy mill problem in Texas, where some animals live in cramped, wire cages sometimes lacking food and water, adequate shelter, veterinary care, exercise and socialization. But many consumers are not aware that creating overly-restrictive legislation to combat this problem could spell the end of puppies and kittens in Texas, if reputable breeders who do treat their animals humanely are shut-down. That’s why veterinarians want to ensure that any proposed legislation concerning commercial breeding is based on science and accepted animal husbandry as well as animal welfare.

“This bill is just for the bad actors,” said Representative Thompson in a press conference at the Texas Capitol today. “We do not want to put reputable breeders out of business,” said Elizabeth Choate, TVMA’s director of government relations/general counsel. “Just those facilities that fail to meet any basic standard of care—the true puppy mills.”

That’s why TVMA came together with the bill’s author, and other stakeholders, to help ensure that this piece of legislation was in the best interest of animals and presents a workable solution to the problem of puppy mills without driving reputable breeders out of business. For instance, HB 1451 focuses on the treatment of the animals and doesn’t put absolute numerical restrictions on the number of animals that can be bred or possessed.

“You could have five dogs and do a terrible job yet those with 100 dogs and a large facility and staff could do a wonderful job,” said Lori Teller, DVM, TVMA’s 2010 president. “It should be about the care provided and not the numbers.”

The standards of care required under HB 1451 are taken from the United States Department of Agriculture’s established animal standards of care for wholesale breeders, or those who breed and sell animals to wholesale pet distribution centers and not the public directly. These standards include things like providing animals with access to healthy food, clean water, enough space to comfortably move around, proper ventilation and lighting, protection from the elements, proper sanitation, socialization, exercise, veterinary care and other standards. A full list of these requirements is accessible on the USDA website here.

Further, HB 1451 would require that breeding females be provided with adequate rest between breeding cycles, basic grooming (including bathing and nail trimming), the prohibition of placing a dog’s enclosure atop another dog enclosure, the prohibition of placing a cat’s enclosure atop another cat enclosure without an impervious barrier in between, a criminal background check for all staff that handle animals, and the prohibition of selling, trading or giving away animals younger than eight weeks of age.

Under HB 1451, commercial breeders would be required to obtain a license from the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, whom would conduct initial and annual inspections of facilities to ensure that humane standards of care are met. This department would also maintain a public directory of commercial breeders and inspection results to ensure that inspectors are held to high professional and ethical standards and unable to inject any personal agendas that could taint the process. Inspectors would also be required to notify local law enforcement or animal control within 24 hours of discovering evidence of animal cruelty or neglect.

“Veterinarians have devoted their lives to animal health and welfare,” said Choate. “So veterinarians would like to see some basic compassionate care standards put in place for the currently unregulated commercial breeding industry that preserve the freedom to do business while guaranteeing the care necessary to create well-balanced companion animals and beloved family members.”

A full copy of HB 1451 is available here.

About TVMA
Founded in 1903, the Texas Veterinary Medical Association is a professional association composed of more than 3,700 veterinarians committed to protecting public health, promoting high educational, ethical and moral standards within the veterinary profession, and educating the public about animal health and its relationship to human health. For more information, call 512/452-4224 or visit www.tvma.org.




Google search
WWW www.tvma.org