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Texas House Moves to Strip Rights of Sporting Dog Owners

Surely Davy Crockett, Sam Houston and Jim Bowie are rolling over in their graves.  It is hard to believe that these patriots in the fight for a free and independent Texas would ever have foreseen that a legislature full of supposed conservatives would vote to permit warrantless searches of the homes of those folks who might sell a few puppies at the end of their driveway. That, however, is exactly what took place yesterday as the Texas House of Representatives voted 98-43 in favor of a bill alleged to be targeting so called puppy mills.  Click here to see who voted to take your rights away and to see those that stood up to protect them.

Puppy mill is a media term coined by animal rights groups to bring attention to substandard conditions in some large scale, commercial dog breeding facilities.  The dog owners that I know, along with hunters in general, all believe that these places should be operated humanely. But as is often the case with legislation drafted by the animal rights lobby, the net has been cast much wider than large-scale commercial facilities.

That’s why the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, the American Kennel Club (AKC), the Texas Wildlife Association, and many other national and local sportsmen’s and dog groups are opposing the bill.

House Bill 1451 classifies you as a commercial breeder if you maintain eleven female dogs that have not been spayed, and you sell dogs.  Now, to a lot of urban folks having eleven dogs may seem like a lot.  But to a sporting dog kennel owner who uses the animals to chase foxes and coyotes or flush quail, it is not a lot.  And if one of these owners sells even just two puppies, then that person opens his house to being searched by the government without cause.  Without even so much as a warrant.

No warrant.  I guess you can now add the founding fathers to the list of those rolling in their graves.

But that is indeed the case with this bill.  The fellow who puts a sign to sell a litter of puppies at the end of his driveway is considered a commercial breeder.  The woman who takes out an ad in her local newspaper to sell a few extra Labrador retrievers is to be treated as if she were operating a puppy producing factory.  And yet no one has ever made a case that hobby breeders and sporting dog kennels are operating inhumane facilities that would necessitate these restrictions.

This bill is like treating a mom and pop ice cream stand the same as a factory.  License fees will be higher, even thousands of dollars.  Record keeping requirements must be maintained and be available to the government at any time.  Kennel construction and maintenance will be tightly regulated and specifically spelled out by the government.  The bill sets up a new unelected board of bureaucrats that is allowed to add any requirement, fee and restriction that it deems necessary.  The commission is estimated by the state to cost at least $1.2 million per year, which must be paid by kennel owners.  All of these things will run the cost of maintaining a hobby kennel through the roof, and ultimately out of existence.

Currently many sporting dog kennels and hobby breeders maintain the records for their dogs on their home computer.  Because, as I keep driving home the point, they are not a large commercial industry.  This bill gives inspectors the authority to search the premises where records are kept without probable cause or even a warrant.  A suspected drug dealer does not have to worry about government enforcers storming his house without cause, but a dog breeder does?  That is simply amazing!

And what is even more amazing?  Is that this is taking place in Texas.  Not California.  Not New York.  But in the Republic of Texas.  The future home of one of the most restrictive dog kennel requirements in the United States.

House Bill 1451 is now in the Texas Senate.  Here’s hoping that the elected officials here will remember their historical predecessors and make sure that this bill is written fairly, and properly targets those abusive commercial operators it claims to be pursuing.  Failing that, this bill should be defeated.

To find your state senator’s contact information, visit the USSA Legislative Action Center at www.ussportsmen.org/LAC.

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