April 2, 2009
Advocates Converge on Texas Capitol, Urge Lawmakers to Protect Animals
AUSTIN, Texas — Citizens from across Texas are assembling at the state capitol Thursday to rally in support of animal protection legislation and to meet with their lawmakers. Humane Lobby Day is being sponsored by The Humane Society of the United States and the Texas Humane Legislation Network.
The day starts with a legislative briefing at the Capitol Extension. Then, more than 150 citizen lobbyists will fan out for meetings with their legislators.
"These citizens know they have the power to make a real difference," says Lou Guyton, central region director for The HSUS. "Hopefully their legislators will listen. These laws are common sense, not any extreme measures."
H.B. 3180 and S.B. 1910, by Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, and Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, would mandate the licensing and regulation of puppy and kitten mills. This legislation would allow a state regulatory agency to inspect people who have eleven or more mother dogs. This legislation was introduced to combat mass dog production facilities that keep animals stacked in wire cages, often in squalid conditions with no exercise, socialization or human interaction.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture licenses and inspects some puppy mills under the federal Animal Welfare Act. However, many puppy mills are not regulated at all. The inspections that do take place don't deter cruelty and abuse, due to lax enforcement of animal welfare standards and only minor fines as penalties, and dogs continue to be treated like a cash crop.
H.B. 1320, by Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, makes it illegal to own or operate a facility for cockfighting; own cockfighting weapons; train fighting birds; or attend a cockfight. Although cockfighting has been illegal in the state since 1907, its associated activities are still legal. Prohibiting these activities will give law enforcement officials additional tools to crack down on this cruel and criminal activity.
This year's Humane Lobby Days are scheduled at 41 state capitals in 70 days.
Last year, state legislatures across the country passed 93 new laws for animals. The HSUS works with animal advocates and state legislators across the country to enact laws protecting animals from cruelty, combating animal fighting, halting wildlife abuse and more.
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.
The mission of the Texas Humane Legislation Network is to promote the humane treatment of animals through legislation, education and advocacy. thln.org