Friday, March 13, 2009

Animal Control Legislation

While we have been struggling with animal control issues here, a new legislative session has convened and numerous bills related to animals have been introduced. ( Check the Texas Legislature Online.) Some of them relate directly to our ongoing problems.

HB 3180 and its companion SB 1910 cover commercial dog and cat breeders and dog and cat dealers. There are some good points to the bill, but there is likely to be some confusion because the definition of a commercial breeder is different than the federal definition of a commercial breeder. It also includes a definition of hobby breeder which is different than what I would prefer, but will work in my recommendations. Our current zoning ordinance definition of animal kennel would include commercial breeders and dealers by implication. If this bill passes, we need to either update the animal kennel definition to include commercial breeders and dealers, or specifically reference commercial breeders and dealers in the code of ordinances. There are also new requirements on buyers rights, which are probably overdue and requirements for veterinarian inspections which are needed. I think that setting 11 unaltered females as the threshold for a commercial breeder may not be the best way to separate commercial breeders from hobby breeders but it's probably the most likely to succeed politically. The difference in the Federal and proposed Texas definitions is not likely to have much effect on our local animal control issues.

HB 2001 and its companion SB 634 covers the restraint of dogs. It effectively eliminates the tieing out of dogs, (exceptions for camping, agriculture, training) and it adds a 150 sq ft minimum enclosure size. For reasons I stated in " Enclosing a Problem", I think this bill will cause more problems than it solves. It would eliminate the need for the original enclosure proposal that was brought before council, but I really can't support it.

We need to keep following these bills. They will impact how the city does animal control, but they really don't have that much impact on my recommendations. The breeders bill will give us a definition of "Hobby Breeder", and will add some record keeping, notification, and buyers rights requirements that fit in well with a "Know your seller" campaign. It does appear that some space requirements will be created if the breeders bill passes, but those will only apply to commercial breeders and dealers.

Overall, there are currently 70 bills dealing with animals before the Texas Legislature. There are about 11 that I will be following that might be relevant to our local animal control. There are others I am likely to be commenting on in the future, but click on the Check the Texas Legislature Online link I provided earlier, and see for your self.

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