RESPONSIBLE PET OWNERS ALLIANCE
With 28 bills filed this session pertaining to animal ownership it’s been a busy six months. A collective sigh of relief resonated across Texas when the gavel came down to adjourn on June 1st. RPOA monitored every twist and turn of 15 bills, setting a record for any state. With your help and our lobbyist Gibson Lewis, his staff, Jeff Shaver, Zandra Anderson, Texas Veterinary Medical Association and too many others to enumerate in this email, we killed all of the bills we opposed except for the “Doggie Bowl” Bill SB 554 by Senator Whitmire (D-Houston). His bill was not top priority due to the more onerous mandatory spay/neuter of every dog and cat in Texas; breed specific legislation; the HSUS and Texas Humane Legislation Network’s misnamed “Puppymill” Bill; and others.
We’ll soon have appropriate thank you’s to donors on our website as well as a list of the legislators who helped us or voted against us. Due to your emails, phone calls and faxes, RPOA was contacted many times by the legislators’ offices and offered compromises in an effort to get their bills passed. Although ultimately we defeated it in the Senate, we were able to get amendments to HB 3180, the misnamed “Puppymill Bill,” on the House floor thanks to Rep. Edmund Kuempel (R-Wilson, Guadalupe, Gonzales), and Rep. “Doc”Anderson, (R-McLennon). Your feedback from conversations with your representatives was invaluable and helped us develop strategy. It is much easier to defeat bills in the Senate as we only need 11 senators on our side to block a floor vote.
A special thank you to Senator Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) and her staff for being the nicest office to work with this session regarding her Mandatory Spay/Neuter Bill. Once we explained the extreme agenda behind this legislation, no committee hearing was scheduled. Her office did offer us a compromise in the waning days of the legislature to remove spay/neuter for all Texas dogs and cats and make it only apply to animal shelter animals. We thanked her for making this change. However, we advised that this would be cost prohibitive to many city animal control divisions and result in more animals being killed instead of adopted out or released to our rescuers. The bill died.
A Texas Humane Legislation Network donor named Diane Coker from Georgetown (listed on the THLN website) succeeded in getting our TX-RPOA E-News terminated abruptly by our A&M List Serv. This was a political maneuver to keep our voices from being heard through our Action Alerts in the middle of a very heated legislative session. Coker complained as a constituent about “misuse of state resources for non-university business” to Rep. Diane Maldonado (D-Williamson). Rep. Maldonado claimed her staff offered to help us move our list but this was not true as they were quite belligerent on the phone. Luckily we were able to set up an alternative list quickly so their plan failed.
There were too many twists and turns each day to enumerate here but it was all worth it and we learned even more about the legislative process in Texas. Not a pretty sight! Plans have begun for the next session in 2011 and will be announced soon. We all know the Animal Rights Industry will be back with a vengeance but we’ll be ready.
DEAD: HB 3180 by Thompson (D-Harris), breeder/dealer licensing/puppy and kitten lemon law regulations. Passed House Floor but not in the Senate. Anyone selling one dog or cat (including rescuers) would have been subject to regulations. Companion Bill SB 1910 by Whitmire (D-Houston) wasn’t pursued as he chose instead to amend Rep. Kuempel’s HB 2310 to include most of Thompson’s bill. Rep. Kuempel did not accept the Whitmire amendment and it was removed. This effectively killed all three bills regulating breeders/dealers.
DEAD: SB 1845 by Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) sterilization of dogs and cats or $300 Intact Animal Permit per dog and cat, Companion Bill HB 4277 by Menendez (D-Bexar). Senator Van de Putte didn’t pursue passage of this bill – to her credit.
DEAD: SB 634 by Seliger (R-Amarillo), unlawful restraint of a dog. Companion Bill HB 2001 by McCall (R-Collin) Banned tethering, required 150 sq. ft. enclosure per dog; no dogs outside below 32 degrees or during heat advisory. Killed in committee.
DEAD: HB 458 by Leibowitz (D-Bexar), limitations on the number of dogs at a residence in certain counties. Out of committee but killed in Calendars Committee.
DEAD: HB 1982 by Martinez Fischer (D-Bexar), dangerous and vicious dogs. Veiled attempt at breed specific legislation with description of “vicious” dog by physical appearance; regulating dogs 40 lbs or more. Left pending in committee.
DEAD: HB 1395 by Farrar (D-Harris), animal cruelty livestock & nonlivestock. Lowered bar for conviction by adding “recklessly” to intentionally or knowingly committing an offense and changed the definition of “animal.” Died in committee.
DEAD: HB 925 by Dutton (D-Harris), handling of or caring for a pit bull breed of dog by certain minors. An attempt at breed specific legislation in Texas.
DEAD: HB 2732 by Eissler (R-Montgomery)/Strama (D-Travis), barking dogs in unincorporated areas of counties 275,000 population or more
DEAD: HB 3380 by Doug Miller (R-Erath, Comanche, Mills, Hamilton, Coryell, Somervell), barking dogs in county unincorporated areas
PASSED AND SENT TO GOVERNOR: SB 554 by Whitmire (D-Houston). Companion Bill HB 1147 by Frost (D-Bowie, Cass, Marion, Morris). The “Doggie Bowl” Bill with possession of alleged dog fighting equipment criminalized; including a harness, treadmill, cage for a dog, pen, dog house for keeping a fighting dog, feeding apparatus, or training pen.
SB 554: Representative Dutton (D-Harris) amended this bill to make it breed specific by adding a Dangerous Dog definition which automatically classified the following breeds to be dangerous: American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier or any mixed breed dog substantially conforming to AKC or UKC standards for those breeds. Due to efforts by our lobbyist, this was quickly removed!
PASSED AS AMENDMENT TO SB 408 by Carona (R-Dallas): HB 1046 by Homer (D-Lamar, Delta, Hopkins, Franklin, Titus, Red River), appeals process in the disposition of cruelly treated animals. This is a major victory for animal owners in Texas as Texas Humane Legislation Network succeeded in getting this due process taken away from us in 2003 legislation.
PASSED AND SIGNED BY GOVERNOR: HB 205 by Aycock (R-Lampasas, Burnet, Bell), exempts dogs that are used to protect livestock from restraint laws on annexed property by cities.
DEAD: HB 435 by Lucio III (D-Cameron), penalty for theft of pet
DEAD: HB 243 by Alonzo (D-Dallas), equipping K-9 law enforcement vehicles with a heat alarm system
DEAD: HB 853 by Laubenberg (R-Collin, Rockwall), relating to inclusion of pets in protective orders. Companion Bill SB 1840 by Uresti (D-San Antonio).
DEAD: HB 1701 by Laubenberg (R-Collin, Rockwall), roadside sale of puppies
DEAD: HB 3322 by Kleinschmidt (R-Bastrop, Brazos, Burleson, Colorado, Fayette, Lee) and SB 682 Companion Bill by Eltife (R-Tyler), animal identification system
PASSED AND SENT TO GOVERNOR: HB 405 by Harless (R-Harris). Companion Bill SB 1298 by Huffman (R-Southside Place) authority of animal control officer to carry a bite prevention stick in performance of official duties
DEAD: HB 1704 by Laubenberg (R-Collin, Rockwall), increasing penalty animal cruelty
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