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June 17, 2011

The HSUS Applauds New Texas Laws on Cockfighting, Puppy Mills, Animal Cruelty

The Humane Society of the United States applauds Texas lawmakers and Gov. Rick Perry for enacting several important measures to strengthen Texas’s protections for animals. The new laws signed by the governor strengthen the Texas statutes to crack down on cockfighting, provide standards for large-scale dog breeding operations, and upgrade the animal cruelty laws. 

“We commend lawmakers in Texas for passing this raft of legislation to protect animals from cruelty and abuse,” said Nicole Paquette, Texas senior state director for The Humane Society of the United States. “The anti-cruelty laws of a state are a reflection of our basic values and attitudes toward animals, and this collection of bills is a measurable step forward for the state of Texas.” 

HB 1043, authored by Rep. Wayne Christian, R-District 9, and Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-District 27, prohibits a person from attending a cockfight, owning or training a rooster to fight, owning or selling the knives, gaffs or other weapons used in the fights, and allowing one’s property to be used in a fight. While cockfighting has been a felony offense in Texas, major loopholes in the law allowed the activity to flourish, and made Texas a magnet for criminal cockfighters who come from neighboring states where the penalties were more severe. An HSUS undercover investigation exposed the pervasive problem of cockfighting rings across Texas, and the new law will close these loopholes and give law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on the entire cast of characters involved in cockfighting. 

HB 1451, authored by Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-District 141, and Sen. John Whitmire, D-District 15, requires licensing and inspection of dog and cat breeders who maintain 11 or more female breeding animals and sell 20 or more animals per year. The bill also establishes minimum standards for the humane handling, care, housing and transportation of dogs and cats by breeders. Texas is the 10th largest puppy mill state in the country, and becomes the 20th state in the country to pass puppy mill reforms in the past 4 years. The HSUS worked with The Texas Humane Legislation Network and the ASPCA to support this effort, and the bill was supported by veterinarians and dog breeders.  

Other animal-friendly legislation that became law during this session:  

  • HB 963, authored by Rep. Will Hartnett, R-District 114, and Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-District 29, ensures that animals seized from persons charged with cruelty to animals are not held in shelters for a long period of time pending an appeal, and requires persons convicted of animal cruelty to reimburse the shelter for cost of care for the animals during the court process. 
  • HB 1103, authored by Rep. Eddie Lucio, III, D-District 38, and Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-District 13, allows a judge to order a person convicted of animal cruelty to attend a responsible pet owner course sponsored by the local municipal animal shelter. 
  • HR 131, authored by Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-District 51, designates October as Adopt-a-Shelter-Pet Month. 
  • SB 279, authored by Sen. Wendy Davis, D-District 10, and Jody Laubenberg, R-District 89, requires that pets and other companion animals are included in protective orders. 

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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.

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