Texas puppy mills bill concerns dog, cat breeders

Responsible dog and cat breeders in Texas could be put out of business by a bill aimed at shutting down so-called puppy mills, critics of the measure charged at a hearing in Austin on Tuesday.

Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, would classify dog and cat breeders who have 11 or more unspayed female animals as "commercial breeders" and require that they be licensed by the state and undergo annual inspections and criminal background checks.

A House Licensing & Administrative Procedures Committee hearing drew dozens of witnesses, many of them breeders who insisted that the measure would run them out of business while doing nothing to shut down inhumane breeders.

"This isn't something that Texas breeders are going to be proud to be a part of. This is something that's done to them," said Dale Martenson, a breeder and show-dog handler in Cleburne.

Thompson said responsible breeders should welcome a system that would root out bad actors.

"I'm not after you," Thompson told one breeder testifying against the bill. "I'm after those people that make you look bad."

Breeders criticized several provisions, including the 11-female limit. Several argued that a provision requiring all breeding animals be examined by a veterinarian annually would be too expensive.

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