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House Puppy Mill Bill Hits a Snag

A bill that would regulate so-called puppy mills, and has dog breeders and animal rights groups at each other's throats, got derailed from the fast-track to passage in the Texas House today.

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A bill that would regulate so-called puppy mills, and has dog breeders and animal rights groups at each others throats, got derailed from the fast-track to passage in the Texas House today.

The bill was on the Local and Consent Calendar which is where bills go if there is general agreement on the issue and no debate is needed. The bill’s author, Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, also happens to be the chairwoman of the Local and Consent Calendar Committee and that also had dog breeders howling of abuse of power.

The bill first hit a snag on when Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, raised and then withdrew a point of order. He found a problem with the bill analysis that did not match the bill. Thompson offered to have the bill recommitted and the problem corrected but Simpson said he wanted to see the bill put on the general calendar so it could be debated.

The bill was removed from the Local and Consent Calendar and sent back to committee to be corrected. 

"I have concerns because it creates lots of regulations and licensing," Simpson said.  

Simpson said he agreed with the goals of the bill, but he and others said the measure wasn't appropriate for the Local and Consent Calendar, because it would set up new regulations that would affect the whole state. 

“It’s not a local bill,” Simpson said. 

The bill would require the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation to license and regulate anyone with 11 or more unspayed female dogs or cats. Those owners would have to pay annual fees, would be required to take each animal to a veterinarian every year and the veterinarian would be required to sign off on a health plan for the animal. Another controversial measure in the bill would offer rewards to people who report breeders they suspect of rules violations.

Thompson told the Tribune that dog breeders who oppose the bill and believe it's meant to drive them out of business are "overexcited" and that her bill is only designed to ensure that breeders meet health and safety standards.

“It is designed to do very limited things,” said Thompson. She said she would just ask people breeding dogs and cats for sale to give their animals clean water, give them food, give them a cage big enough to move around in and give them some exercise.

Thompson said she still believes the bill will pass once it’s placed General Calendar because both Democrats and Republicans support it, and she believes it is the right thing to do. 

“If you are actually breeding animals you ought to want to do it right. What's wrong with having enough space in a cage where an animal can stretch out? What's wrong with an animal having clean water?” said Thompson.

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