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Animal Attraction: Animal Advocacy Legislative Agenda Announced by THLN

by Stacy Fox

Posted on June 20, 2014 at 11:27 AM

The Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN), a non-profit organization dedicated to writing and lobbying to pass mainstream animal welfare legislation in Texas, recently announced its preliminary legislative agenda for the 2015 Texas legislative session.

Among its legislative initiatives are improvements to the current dog tethering law and a new law requiring peace officers to take canine encounter training to mitigate the risk of unnecessary dog shootings when carrying out law enforcement efforts.  THLN seeks comments and support from Texas citizens on these initiatives.

Dog Tethering

THLN asserts that the current statewide tethering law is vague, and therefore it is ineffective.  In addition, THLN indicates that animal control officers and law enforcement officers cannot enforce this law as written, and during THLN's informal surveys of officers around the state, dog tethering was indicated as one of the important animal issues to be addressed.  THLN will help pass a bill in order to strengthen the current tethering law and ensure it allows for "humane tethering" with reasonable, enforceable provisions.  THLN contends that continuous chaining is both inhumane and a threat to the safety of the confined dog, other animals, and humans. "The cases of dog tethering cruelty across Texas are staggering," said Shelby Bobosky, THLN Vice President and Legislative Co-Chair.  "There was a recent case of a dog suffering strangulation from its entangled tether in East Texas, and several cases of tethered dogs freezing to death in Lubbock.  Tethering can be done humanely, but provisions need to be in place so that law enforcement can take action in cases where it is not."

Dog Shootings

According to the National Canine Research Council, up to half of the Intentional Shootings by police involve dogs and Texas currently leads the nation in dog shootings by law enforcement.  The shootings are attributed to the lack of law enforcement training when encountering dogs.  THLN will help pass a bill in the 2015 Texas legislative session requiring that all peace officers in the state take mandatory canine encounter training, which will educate them on canine body language and behaviors.  The intent of such training is for law enforcement to be better able to judge if the animal is a threat and avoid shooting a pet that is not posing a threat.  "As a former deputy sheriff, I understand the sensitivity around dog shootings," said THLN executive director, Rick Bousquet.  "When I was a law enforcement officer, I never knew what surprises would come up while I was out on law enforcement calls.  Enduring aggression from dogs was not uncommon, and unfortunately peace officers may be forced to protect themselves or others, however, many officers may 'jump the gun' in shooting a dog simply because they are not trained on canine behaviors. Often times, dogs are not a threat to anyone, so mandatory training on dog encounters should dramatically reduce the number of unnecessary dog shootings in Texas."

Defending 'Puppy Mill' Legislation and Other Animal Welfare Laws

During each legislative session in Texas, THLN acts to defend existing animal welfare laws that it lobbied to pass previously and works to prevent bills from passing that weaken existing animal protection laws.  Among the most contentious laws is the Large Scale Commercial Breeder Act (otherwise known as the 'Puppy Mill Law'), which passed in 2011 when signed by Governor Rick Perry.  This statute provides for minimum standards of care for dogs and cats in large breeding facilities and makes them subject to inspection to ensure proper adherence to these care standards.  Large scale breeders fought the bill in the legislature and have since made several attempts to repeal or weaken the law.   "We at THLN and our thousands of supporters will not tolerate animals being kept in cruel and deplorable conditions for the purpose of breeding puppies and kittens for profit," said Cile Holloway, THLN co-founder and president.  "Breeding of animals should be done responsibly and any breeders with humane practices should not fear the puppy mill statute.  Animals sold online, at flea markets, and at pet shop retailers are often produced in these horrific facilities, and THLN will work tirelessly to educate the public on this and defend the legislation we worked so hard to pass."

Other laws THLN anticipates defending during the 2015 legislative session include the ban on horse slaughter for human consumption, and the Dangerous Wild Animal Act, which provides for oversight of exotic animals kept as pets.

SOURCE Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN)