Many are horrified by the puppy mill problem in Texas, where some animals live in cramped, wire cages sometimes lacking food, water, 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 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 without driving reputable breeders out of business. For instance, HB 1451 focuses on the treatment of the animals and not the number.
"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, accessible here.
Under HB 1451, commercial breeders would be required to obtain a license from the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, whom would conduct annual inspections to ensure that humane care standards 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.