AUSTIN, Texas - A bill regulating how animals are sold at pet stores has passed the Texas House and is now waiting to be heard in the Senate.
House Bill 1818 would require pet store owners to get the dogs and cats they sell from an animal control agency, an animal shelter, an animal rescue organization, or a licensed breeder.
State Rep. Jared Patterson (R-Frisco), who filed the bill, says an estimated two million puppies sold annually across the U.S. originate from puppy mills, while two to three million puppies and cats are euthanized by pet shelters every year. In a release, he said in part "...Texas must enforce a minimum standard so that new pet owners can rest assured knowing that their dog or cat was raised and treated with care."
Rachel Hattig is a dog breeder in Austin who has been breeding dogs for years. She said as a breeder, it's like preserving a historic artifact. "There is a genuine responsibility of breeders for preservation for people to enjoy these dogs for generations," she said.
Hattig said it gives her the opportunity to watch the dogs grow, while knowing how they're being raised. "It's a very rewarding experience to watch a dog you birthed blossom into such a fantastic dog," she said.
She said unlike some jobs, being a breeder is 24/7 work. Her dogs live with her, she works with them, trains them, and makes sure that she is giving them the best love and support she can. "I take it very seriously, I really enjoy it," Hattig said.
Hattig said that by taking her work seriously, she knows what goes into raising these animals and that's why she wants to educate those who are looking to get a dog to do the research.
"The reality is that these people will stop when people stop buying their dogs," she said.
She adds that as a breeder, she knows a dog is a lifetime commitment. That's why those who adopt through her as she will work with them for the entirety of the dog's life.
"I'm available for the life of the dog," Hattig said. "I'm always there trying to help them in any way navigate those waters."
If HB 1818 is adopted, pet stores that violate the rules can be charged up to $500 per animal sold.