In promising news for animals, the Texas House of Representatives approved a bill that would make it illegal in the state of Texas for pet stores to sell animals from puppy mills.
Similar bans have already been enacted by more than 370 localities and three states; that includes six municipalities in Texas: Austin, San Antonio, Fort Worth, The Colony, El Paso, and Waco. This would make it state-wide.
The bill also requires that pet stores maintain records on where they obtained each animal for at least a year, and to post the name of the source in a conspicuous location, IE on the enclosure of each kennel.
The penalty would be a $500 fine for each dog or cat sold in violation of that prohibition.
Sponsored by Texas Representative Jared Patterson, Bill 1818 calls for pet stores in counties with more than 200,000 residents to get animals from: an animal shelter, animal rescue organization, or breeder licensed by the state of Texas.
In a statement, Patterson noted that "an estimated 2 million puppies sold annually across the U.S. originate from puppy mills while 2-3 million puppies and cats are euthanized by pet shelters every year. Commercially bred dogs often live in horrendous conditions and suffer from an array of illnesses, often unknown to the consumer. Although 24 out of the 25 top pet stores already adhere to the humane model, 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."
Patterson represents House District 106, which encompasses the eastern portion of Denton County, including Frisco, which is home to a notorious Petland store that's been the subject of investigations by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and charged with mistreating its animals. An undercover investigator kept a diary documenting puppies that had bloody diarrhea, vomiting, sneezing, coughing, or were visibly underweight.
The bill is primarily a shot at Petland, which is the only big pet store company in Texas still selling animals known to be procured from puppy mills.
The SPCA describes a puppy mill as "a large-scale commercial dog breeding facility where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. The female dogs being bred are kept in small, filthy cages and not given medical care or nourishment. These crowded, unsanitary conditions allow for the spread of disease and often result in sick puppies. Puppy mill breeders sell in questionable locations such as flea markets, parking lots, and the internet but also sell their puppies directly to pet stores."
Petland has been the target of protests for more than a decade. They've been charged repeatedly with selling sick animals and with not observing proper cleaning protocols, and have been the subject of numerous Humane Society of the United States investigations which have found dead and sick puppies and overcrowded cages.
The bill was approved by a vote of 85-54. It still needs to work its way through the Senate before it goes into law.