Texas Mulls Licensing Bill for Commercial Pet Breeders

Bill also provides standards for humane handling and care of dogs and cats.

Legislators in Texas have introduced a bill that seeks to establish a licensing process for commercial dog and cat breeders. A public hearing on the measure is set for today. Tuesday, March 15, 2011.

Under House Bill 1451, the state’s commercial breeders would have to apply for and receive a license from the state Department of Licensing and Regulation. A commercial breeder is defined as any person who possesses 11 or more adult intact female animals and is engaged in the business of breeding animals for direct or indirect sales or for exchange in return for consideration.

A commercial breeder would be prohibited from possessing more than 50 adult intact female animals at any time, unless he or she receives a special exemption from the department.

Under the bill, licensees would have to be inspected at least once every 12 months and “at other times as necessary to ensure compliance.”
The state’s commission of licensing and regulation would be responsible for establishing “reasonable and necessary” fees to cover the costs of administering and enforcing the new rules set forth in HB 1451.

The bill also provides for the establishment of a Commercial Breeder Training and Enforcement Account to pay for promoting consumer awareness of the provisions set forth in the bill; supporting educational seminars, training activities or other projects to help the department administer these rules; for information resulting in the disciplinary action of a violator; and any other action to improve the department’s ability to investigate violations of and enforce the provisions in HB 1451.
Funding for the Commercial Breeder Training and Enforcement Account would come from administrative penalties collected as part of these rules. The department may also accept and solicit gifts, grants and other donations from any source to deposit into the account.

In addition to the licensing requirements, HB 1451 sets for a number of standards pertaining to the “humane handling, care and transportation of dogs and cats by a commercial breeder to ensure the overall health, safety and well-being of each animal.” Specific standards are set forth in the bill, but the commission is also authorized to adopt additional standards that “meet or exceed federal regulations.”
The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) opposes this bill in its current form. In an industry alert issued today, PIJAC contends that such legislation should clearly set forth “objective and science-based” care standards. PIJAC is calling for the elimination of “unnecessarily burdensome and overly restrictive requirements,” such as the limit on number of dogs a commercial breeder may posses. The Washington, D.C. based organization also commented that enforcement should only be conducted by trained employees of the agency.

The House Committee on Licensing and Administrative Procedures is scheduled to hear HB 1451 at 8 a.m. March 15, in the state Capitol. To view the bill in its entirety, click here.

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