Could Texas Become Nation's Puppy Mill Capital?

Animal-rights advocates fear Texas may soon become the puppy mill capital of the United States.

Louisiana, Oklahoma and Missouri recently passed laws regulating puppy mills, but Texas does not have such regulation.

"If you can move somewhere else where there's no laws that require you to do that, you can further take advantage of the animal," said Skip Trimble of the Texas Humane Legislation Network.

The THLN is working with the Texas Veterinary Medical Association to draft a bill to be introduced in the next legislative session. It would set regulations for large commercial breeders in Texas.

"The TVMA wants the legislation to be enforceable, workable, not cumbersome," said Dr. Nancy Turner of the TVMA.

The legislation would likely:

  • Apply to large commercial breeders only
  • Require a state license
  • Set basic standards of care
  • Provide for inspections and enforcement

There will likely be opposition.

The Responsible Pet Owners Alliance of Texas helped defeat a similar bill in the last session.

"We defeated the mis-named 'puppy mill bill' last session... It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that if... breeding is regulated out of existence, there'll be no animals left. We call it the 'pet elimination bill,'" said Mary Beth Duerler, of the RPOA.

Supporters say that's not the goal.

"We don't want those breeders that are doing a good job -- that are providing great puppies to the people of Texas -- to be forced out of business by cumbersome legislation," Turner said.

"We've got to have regulation, or we are going to be overwhelmed with puppy millers," Trimble said.

The next legislative session begins in January in Austin.

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