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TEXAS: A really atrocious bill in the TX legislature


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H.B. 2116 is currently awaiting action in the Texas House of Representatives. It was substituted in committee for an earlier version which would have regulated how dogs and cats are confined and cared for. The original bill was objectionable, but this new version is shocking.

 

Section 1 of the bill says you can't stack enclosures unless there's an impervious barrier between the upper and lower ones, and Section 2 would make it an offense to do so. No problem there, IMO. However, Section 3 provides:

 

SECTION 3. STUDY OF STANDARDS OF CARE FOR DOGS AND CATS.

The executive commissioner shall conduct a study regarding the

proper standards for care and confinement for dogs and cats to

ensure the overall health and welfare of each dog or cat. Not later

than August 31, 2012, the executive commissioner shall submit a

report to the chairs of the appropriate legislative committees

summarizing the findings of the study required by this section.

 

This subsection expires September 1, 2013.
Rules may be

adopted from recommendations of the study. A member of a club or an

affiliate organization of a national kennel club whose mission is

stated in the charter and bylaws to "advocate the purebred dog as a

family companion, advance canine health and well-being, work to

protect the rights of all dog owners and promote responsible dog

ownership" is exempt from rules that may be adopted.

 

The language quoted in the second paragraph comes directly from the AKC charter. It is inconceivable that any other "national kennel club" would have those exact words in their charter. So basically this means that whatever rules may be adopted to regulate the care and confinement of dogs and cats in Texas apply to everyone except members of AKC clubs. Members of AKC clubs would be exempt from them.

 

There is no legitimate governmental purpose in providing legislative incentives for people to join AKC clubs. There is no legitimate governmental purpose in exempting AKC club members from animal welfare legislation. If tethering a dog outside, or keeping it in an enclosure smaller than X, or not taking it to the vet once a year is detrimental to the dogs of non-AKC club members, it is equally detrimental to the dogs of AKC club members.

 

I haven't run across any discussion of this new version of the bill anywhere. Organizations like SAOVA are still talking as if the bill was its original version, not this substituted version. (I can only assume that AKC opposed the original bill and negotiated this little goodie for its members as a "compromise.") I am not a Texan, and I'm not familiar with how the Texas legislature operates, but it's my understanding that the bill has been placed on the Local & Consent Calendar as a non-controversial, unopposed bill, to be scheduled for a vote in the full house without debate or possibility of amendment. If I WERE a Texan, I would be contacting my Representative and urging him or her to get it off that calendar so that it cannot be passed in the House without full debate, and then to oppose it when and if it does come up for a vote.

 

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Heaven help us all if any single private entity is able to write the law or circumvent the law - which is precisely what the AKC appears to be doing or being empowered to do by this bill should it become law.

 

Thank you for this information, Eileen. Let's hope it doesn't fall on deaf ears.

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Why would they make that exception? That is just odd. I am trying to figure out if it was originally conceived of as a way to allow dogs to be crated at sporting events such as agility trials and dog shows, without falling under whatever new rules might be enacted for suitable home environment, then got squashed around in some legislator's mind who thought AKC was the definition of good dog care? Or, an AKC club saw the bill and freaked out about how it would affect dog events and ended up just getting AKC exempted?

 

Or, AKC breeders convinced the writer of the bill that AKC would never register BYB dogs.

 

Poorly written and needs to be rethought, in any case.

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Thinking a bit about this, and seemingly remembering something somewhat similar with regards to a bill in CA, I think - something to do with exempting AKC dog breeders/owners from the rules that would pertain to others. I think it was defeated...

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Oh my. So a puppy miller could simply be a member of the AKC's affiliate club for his/her breed(s) and then be completely exempt from this legislation, which no doubt was originally conceived as a means of combatting mills and their typical care and maintenance of dogs. Nice.... (Seriously, who else but mills routinely stacks dogs in crates that don't have impervious layers between them?)

 

J.

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H.B. 2116 is currently awaiting action in the Texas House of Representatives. It was substituted in committee for an earlier version which would have regulated how dogs and cats are confined and cared for. The original bill was objectionable, but this new version is shocking.

 

Section 1 of the bill says you can't stack enclosures unless there's an impervious barrier between the upper and lower ones, and Section 2 would make it an offense to do so. No problem there, IMO. However, Section 3 provides:

 

SECTION 3. STUDY OF STANDARDS OF CARE FOR DOGS AND CATS.

The executive commissioner shall conduct a study regarding the

proper standards for care and confinement for dogs and cats to

ensure the overall health and welfare of each dog or cat. Not later

than August 31, 2012, the executive commissioner shall submit a

report to the chairs of the appropriate legislative committees

summarizing the findings of the study required by this section.

 

This subsection expires September 1, 2013.
Rules may be

adopted from recommendations of the study. A member of a club or an

affiliate organization of a national kennel club whose mission is

stated in the charter and bylaws to "advocate the purebred dog as a

family companion, advance canine health and well-being, work to

protect the rights of all dog owners and promote responsible dog

ownership" is exempt from rules that may be adopted.

 

The language quoted in the second paragraph comes directly from the AKC charter. It is inconceivable that any other "national kennel club" would have those exact words in their charter. So basically this means that whatever rules may be adopted to regulate the care and confinement of dogs and cats in Texas apply to everyone except members of AKC clubs. Members of AKC clubs would be exempt from them.

 

There is no legitimate governmental purpose in providing legislative incentives for people to join AKC clubs. There is no legitimate governmental purpose in exempting AKC club members from animal welfare legislation. If tethering a dog outside, or keeping it in an enclosure smaller than X, or not taking it to the vet once a year is detrimental to the dogs of non-AKC club members, it is equally detrimental to the dogs of AKC club members.

 

I haven't run across any discussion of this new version of the bill anywhere. Organizations like SAOVA are still talking as if the bill was its original version, not this substituted version. (I can only assume that AKC opposed the original bill and negotiated this little goodie for its members as a "compromise.") I am not a Texan, and I'm not familiar with how the Texas legislature operates, but it's my understanding that the bill has been placed on the Local & Consent Calendar as a non-controversial, unopposed bill, to be scheduled for a vote in the full house without debate or possibility of amendment. If I WERE a Texan, I would be contacting my Representative and urging him or her to get it off that calendar so that it cannot be passed in the House without full debate, and then to oppose it when and if it does come up for a vote.

 

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Yet another wonderful piece of proposed legislation brought forth by our elected officials who have nothing better to do with their legal backgrounds (as if there aren't any bigger issues to deal with in Texas). Any idea who brought this to the table? Republican? Democrat? Probably not an independent. Time to revamp the system.......

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? I think anti-puppymill legislation is a good thing, and I am glad they are attempting to regulate it - the only issue I would have is the AKC exemption, which makes it rather self-defeating. Puppymills, in addition to ethical and humanitarian concerns, are a tick sucking away at government resources as the puppies sold to ignorant buyers are dumped at shelters for the counties to house, feed, medicate and euthanize when the cute wears off or the medical and psychological issues become too profound to deal with. Also, the government resources in tracing the parvo outbreaks and other disease issues when the puppies are shipped to out of state auctions and pet stores.

 

I think legislatures legislating to prevent drains on the economic resources, especially in times like these, is legislators doing their job. But, it is the job of people who have a clue on the issues behind it to make certain the legislators are adequately informed to understand AKC and other kennel club membership does not preclude puppymill.

 

JMHO

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I would guess (and I am only guessing) that the lawmakers are trying to find a way to exempt "responsible dog breeders" and decided that belonging to an AKC parent club is the way to define them.

 

This is a silly idea, of course, but I doubt its any kind of secret plot by the AKC.

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I would guess (and I am only guessing) that the lawmakers are trying to find a way to exempt "responsible dog breeders" and decided that belonging to an AKC parent club is the way to define them.

 

This is a silly idea, of course, but I doubt its any kind of secret plot by the AKC.

 

I don't know about a "secret plot," but the AKC was actively lobbying against the original version of H.B. 2116, and it's hard for me to believe that they played no role in substituting this new version for the original. I assume they said they wouldn't oppose the bill anymore if an exception for their members was written into any rules that might be made. I can't believe anyone else would have a motivation to exempt them, and would go looking up the AKC Charter to find wording there that could be written into the law to exempt them.

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There are a LOT of AKC breeders in Texas (many of whom are responsible breeders) in virtually all AKC breeds and my guess would be they have a good lobbyist because this provision really waters down the original purpose of the Bill.

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I don't know about a "secret plot," but the AKC was actively lobbying against the original version of H.B. 2116, and it's hard for me to believe that they played no role in substituting this new version for the original. I assume they said they wouldn't oppose the bill anymore if an exception for their members was written into any rules that might be made. I can't believe anyone else would have a motivation to exempt them, and would go looking up the AKC Charter to find wording there that could be written into the law to exempt them.

 

Well, yes. If the responsible breeder/AKC lobbies are saying this penalizes them (because isn't there more to the bill than stacked cages?), and the lawmakers want to move forward without targeting these folks, by adding this provision they can move it along. In reality, while we don't necessarily agree with the AKC philosophy there are in face responsible, good people out there and thats probably what this loophole is for.

 

Its not a very good loophole but clearly the lawmakers don't know that.

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I'm not sure I understand what your point is. Whether we agree with the AKC philosophy or not has nothing to do with why this bill is outrageous. Whether there are or are not responsible, good people out there has nothing to do with why this bill is outrageous. There are responsible, good people in the NRA, but obviously it would not be a legitimate exercise of governmental power for a state to enact restrictions on gun purchases/ownership and provide that NRA members are exempt from them. There are responsible, good people in MADD, but obviously it would not be a legitimate exercise of governmental power for the state to enact regulations against drunk driving and provide that MADD members are exempt from them. If your point is that it's understandable why a private organization would say that we won't oppose your bill if you exempt our members from its requirements, well, I guess it is. If your point is that it's understandable why legislators would want to accept a deal like that, well, I guess it is. But if you're saying that a deal like that is okay -- well, it's not.

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Good examples, Eileen.

 

Not really.

 

I'd like to know more about what restrictions the law is proposing but I'm really horrible at understanding law lingo. The current proposed bill seems very short compared to the original and I'm wondering if they're planning to add more?

 

From the original bill: (a) An owner may not leave a dog outside and unattended (1) in an enclosure of less than 150 square feet for each dog over six months of age

 

I can completely see why this would worry AKC clubs and competitors. Even though I would never leave my dog at an event crated and unattended, this happens all of the time at agility trials for example (not just AKC ones). It seems this wording is not in the new bill however, so I don't really understand why the AKC club exemption is there, unless they were not aware that wording would be taken out of the bill when they lobbied to have the exemption included.

 

Autumn

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I'd like to know more about what restrictions the law is proposing but I'm really horrible at understanding law lingo. The current proposed bill seems very short compared to the original and I'm wondering if they're planning to add more?

 

The bill is poorly drafted, but it would apparently require the Executive Commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (why Health and Human Services? who knows?) to conduct a study regarding proper standards for the care and confinement of dogs and cats, and would authorize the Commission to enact unspecified rules based on his study, from which members of AKC affiliated clubs would be exempt, but which would be binding on other dog owners in Texas. I don't know how to say it any more clearly. The bill leaves it up to the Executive Commissioner and the Commission to set whatever rules they see fit.

 

From the original bill: (a) An owner may not leave a dog outside and unattended (1) in an enclosure of less than 150 square feet for each dog over six months of age

 

I can completely see why this would worry AKC clubs and competitors.

 

Can you see why it would worry anyone else?

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Of course I can see why it would worry other dog owners as well, but it seems the topic of this thread is "OMG AKC club members are going to be exempt from this!" when it should really be, "OMG, wtf kind of bill is this, we should be doing everything from keeping this from being passed at all." I don't blame the AKC at all for lobbying to be exempt from this, I just wish they would have lobbied for the benefit of all dog owners, not just AKC club members.

 

Autumn

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When the AKC starts refusing to register pups from mills I'll show them some respect. As of right now they cater to the mills as a major source of income.

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Not really.

The examples that Eileen gave with regards to the particular part of this bill that was being discussed, were (in my opinion) good comparisons. Your mileage may vary, obviously.

 

I don't think that any of us are of the opinion that any dogs should be kept in poor to inhumane conditions, but that wasn't the particular matter under discussion as put forth by the OP.

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I don't blame the AKC at all for lobbying to be exempt from this, I just wish they would have lobbied for the benefit of all dog owners, not just AKC club members.

 

Well, that's one place where we differ. I do blame the AKC for lobbying to be exempt from this, instead of lobbying for the benefit of all dog owners and dogs.

 

You notice that I advocated opposing this bill. I didn't advocate adding an exemption for ABCA and USBCHA members.

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If your point is that it's understandable why a private organization would say that we won't oppose your bill if you exempt our members from its requirements, well, I guess it is. If your point is that it's understandable why legislators would want to accept a deal like that, well, I guess it is. But if you're saying that a deal like that is okay -- well, it's not.

 

I actually never said its OK...I am not sure what part of "Its not a very good loophole" you didn't understand?

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Well, that's one place where we differ. I do blame the AKC for lobbying to be exempt from this, instead of lobbying for the benefit of all dog owners and dogs.

 

You notice that I advocated opposing this bill. I didn't advocate adding an exemption for ABCA and USBCHA members.

 

Do we know what really happened to cause the exemption? Maybe they were lobbying for all dog owners and this is just how it turned out. Either way the draconian bill is what really needs to be focused on, not griping about the AKC, that is getting us no where.

 

Autumn

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Actually, if AKC members pointed out to their organization that they didn't like the fact that AKC lobbied to exempt AKC breeders (where puppy millers are rife), then perhaps AKC would change its tactics. Then again, the sun might start revolving around the earth....

 

Are AKC and its members focusing on this "draconian bill"? Why would they now? They're exempt. Are you telling your friends (AKC and otherwise) in Texas to contact their Congresspeople to oppose the bill? Or are AKC breeders now sitting back thinking it just doesn't matter because they're exempt?

 

I'm sorry, but there's no way to separate AKC from this, given the fact that many big mills are AKC (after all those AKC-registered puppies in the pet stores don't spring from nothingness). Something smells really, really bad here, and it's not just the bill in question.

 

J.

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