Dog breeders lost a round on Thursday when a federal court in Austin rejected their efforts to block Texas' new "puppy mill law" from going into effect.
The Licensed Breeders Act was passed in 2011. It requires commercial dog and cat breeders with 11 or more female dogs or cats who sell 20 or more puppies or kittens a year to be licensed by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations. Breeders must provide a minimum standard of care and submit to an inspection of their facilities.
"It is tragic that any breeder would oppose providing such minimal care for their animals," said Cile Holloway, president of Texas Humane Legislation Network.
The law was set to take effect September 1, 2012. In October, a group of breeders filed to overturn the legislation, claiming the regulations were vague and violated their constitutional rights.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN) responded by filing an amicus brief asking the court to uphold the law.
"Texas is one of the top 10 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."
THLN president Cile Holloway said that these standards have already been in the federal Animal Welfare Act for years. "They should be nothing new to most breeders," she said. "It is tragic that any breeder would oppose providing such minimal care for their animals."
The minimal care standard includes basics such as humane housing, annual veterinary care and daily exercise.
Because most breeder operations are kept hidden, this law gets them on the record and allows inspectors access. There's also a hotline and a website to report breeders not on the list. Call the enforcement division at 512-539-5600 or click here to file a complaint online.