Federal Court Refuses to Block New Texas Puppy Mill Law

A federal court in Austin Texas heard arguments and then rejected a motion by certain disgruntled commercial dog breeders to block the state’s new puppy mill law from going into effect. The Humane Society of the United States and Texas Humane Legislation Network filed an amicus brief asking the court to uphold the law, which was also vigorously defended by the Texas Attorney General’s Office. The new law instructs the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation to inspect and license large-scale commercial pet breeders with 11 or more breeding female dogs or cats and who sell 20 or more puppies or kittens each year.

The Court found that the new law was within the power of the state legislature to endure humane treatment of animals, and does not violate constitutional rights of dog breeders challenging the law. Similar challenges have been brought in other states, and those challenges have failed as well.

“Texas is one of the top ten puppy mill states in the country and this law is an important first step in cleaning up this inhumane industry,” said Katie Jarl, Texas state director for The HSUS. “The plaintiffs and their cohorts don’t want there to be any standards for the responsible care of dogs in commercial breeding facilities, and that’s just not acceptable to Texas pet owners who want to protect dogs from cruelty and abuse.”

“The Licensed Breeders Act establishes very basic standards for breeders in Texas – humane housing, annual veterinary care, and daily exercise to name a few,” said Yolanda Eisenstein, president for THLN. “These standards have been in the federal Animal Welfare Act for years, so they should be nothing new to most breeders. It is tragic that any breeder would oppose providing such minimal care for their animals.”

The law went into effect on Sept. 1, 2012. Along with requiring a license and inspection for large scale breeders, it also establishes minimum standards for the humane handling, care, housing and transportation of dogs and cats by commercial breeders.

The HSUS and THLN are represented in this matter by attorneys from the law firm of Hunton & Williams, LLP, as well as by attorneys from the HSUS’ Animal Protection Litigation section.

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