by Cheshire Kitten on 23 May 2011
in the Special World News section of The Anipal Times
A few important bills concerning companion animals may be on their way to becoming law this year in Texas. The legislature meets only every other year, and this year is one of those years. The bills that passed one house or the other by the end of last week have a chance of making it into law.
Even the best ideas that have failed to gain this partial approval by now will have to wait until 2013 to be reintroduced, according to the Texas Tribune. The session is scheduled to end completely by mid-June. Any legislation that hasn’t passed both houses by then simply dies.
The first companion animal bill of note concerns “puppy mills,” or in official language, large-scale dog and cat breeders. According to the Texas Human Legislation Network, the Texas House of Representatives has passed a bill that regulates large-scale pet breeders. If it also passes in the Senate, breeders who have 11 or more breeding female cats or dogs will have to treat their animals more humanely. First of all, House Bill 1451 would require a license for large-scale breeders. Their facilities would be inspected before they open and every 18 months after that as long as they stay in business. The legislation proposes requirements of adequate wholesome food, clean water, proper ventilation and lighting indoors, protection from bad weather outdoors, adequate sanitation, enough space to sit, stand, turn around and lie down and proper veterinary care.
Both the Democratic and Republican Parties endorsed this bill, as did the Texas Veterinary Medical Association and a lot of animal protection organizations, according to THLN.
Now the bill goes to the Senate. The THLN will have updates on the bill as it moves through the Senate and advice about actions citizens can take to support the bill.
Next, the budget crisis in Texas may interfere with funding for low-cost and free spay and neuter services that are funded through the sale of special license plates for cars. People have bought enough Animal Friendly license plates to create a fund of more than $1.6 million for spay/neuter. Texas can’t spend this money on anything except spay/neuter services, but it can legally just not spend the money.
The Texas House adopted a budget bill that allows the state to spend only $450,000 of this money and holds back the rest of the money to help balance the state’s budget, according to THLN. The Texas Senate’s budget bill fully funds all of the accounts in the Specialty License Plate Account, including the Animal Friendly account. Now, the two chambers will send members to a conference committee to iron out the differences in the two budget bills. Citizens have time to encourage the committee to live up to the state’s promises and fund the spay/neuter initiatives fully. THLN has a list of all of the members of the conference committee if you would like to have your humans contact them.
Finally, both chambers have passed bills that would protect pets and other companion animals in cases of domestic violence. Senate Bill 279 and House Bill 323 both passed earlier in the session. The completed legislation still requires the governor’s signature to become law.
THLN has information on other legislative initiatives in Texas, including a bill on cock fighting and one dealing with sanctuary for dangerous wild animals. THLN offers a lot of services on its website to help people in Texas find their senators and representatives. We can check the current animal laws in a compilation by THLN too.