House Passes Puppy Mill Bill

With Simpson arguing against, measure passes

By Jordan Smith, 4:01PM, Tue. Apr. 26, 2011

Dogs crowded into cages were rescued from a Kaufman Co. puppy mill in 2009
Dogs crowded into cages were rescued from a Kaufman Co. puppy mill in 2009
photo by Kathy Milani, Humane Society of the US

After being held up twice by Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, the Texas House finally voted this afternoon in favor of a bill that would outlaw puppy mills.

The bill, House Bill 1451, by Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, earned bipartisan support in an effort to outlaw the large-scale inhumane breeding of dogs and cats. The bill requires breeders keeping 11 or more intact females to be inspected and licensed; the measure would require animals to be kept in cages of sufficient size, to be given exercise, food and water. A modest proposal indeed.

Still, Simpson – whose Longview district is home to some egregious cases of animal abuse (and whose mayor has come out in support of Thompson's measure) – argued on the House floor today that this bill just represented an expansion of government along the lines of Washington, D.C. attempts to "regulate light bulbs." Simpson says he is "very much in support of our animal cruelty laws" and that those should be "vigorously" enforced, but that this law represents a burden on breeders who operate in an ethical and humane manner. The bill only "burdens those who are keeping the law, responsible breeders."

Of course, what Simpson fails to note is that animal cruelty laws only kick in once animals have been abused and suffering – and in the case of puppy mills, often after the sickly and abused animals have been sold to consumers. The idea here is simple: Keep abuse from happening and keep consumers from being injured. Indeed, Thompson noted that the cost to taxpayers to round up and care for sick animals born in puppy mills can be great – in Longview, the city spent roughly $150,000 on a recent raid where many animals ended up having to be euthanized because they were so sick.

Despite Simpson's ongoing attempts to defeat the bill – maneuvering to pull it from the Local & Consent Calendar earned him the ire of several lawmakers, some of whom pulled their names as co-sponsors from Simpson bills – the House passed the measure today on a vote of 95-44 with two members present not voting.

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