AUSTIN, Texas - A raid and rescue in Kaufman County, just east of Dallas, in 2009 involved several hundred dogs that were removed from a breeder. Another raid happened there two years later.
The case, and others like it, played a key role in the passage of the Dog and Cat Breeders Act of 2011, a program administered by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. Nine years later, state lawmakers are being urged to reconsider and abolish the law.
That has animal rights advocates like Shelby Bobosky preparing for another fight under the Capitol dome. "We worked so hard to pass it in 2011, and it was quite a fight, but at the end of the day, we know that it is not the best program in place, but it is incredibly important to keep and not abolish,” she said.
A sunset review of the breeders' license program cited three main reasons why it should be eliminated. The writers claim the regulation misses the intended target: puppy mills. There are significant loopholes, like exemptions for racing, field competitions, personal use, herding, or hunting. Also, in 2019, the cost per licensee to administer the program was about three times greater than the $300 small breeder fee and nearly double that of the $500 for large breeders.
The law requires a license for owning 11 or more adult female dogs or cats capable of reproduction and if the breeder sells or exchanges at least 20 animals within a year. Bobosky believes amending that could save the law.
"if you reduce the amount of breeding females to 5, like the USDA, and nix the requirement of sales you'd have so many more breeders coming into this program,” said Bobosky.
There are currently 154 license holders in Texas and more than 350 unlicensed breeders according to the sunset review. That gap is one reason why the American Kennel Club supports eliminating the license. An AKC spokesperson referred FOX 7 to their response to the Sunset Committee which stated in part:
"In our view, sufficient evidence exists to support a conclusion that the program and its underlying legislation are operationally inefficient, ineffective, and insolvent."
The AKC recommends better enforcement of existing cruelty laws and pushing for better federal consumer protection. Bobosky is worried that approach will have a high cost.
"if we lose and abolish this program we are going to go back to the days of 400, 500 dogs and cats from being removed from facilities because the USDA is not prosecuting or fining,” said Bobosky.
The hearing will take place Monday morning. No public testimony will be taken.