When HB 1451, a much needed bill to regulate large-scale (high volume) dog and cat breeders reached the Texas State House floor for vote, April 14, Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) acted alone taking actions that knocked the bill off of the Local and Consent Calendar. This kept the bill from being voted on by the House that day. The bill was sent back to Committee and unanimously voted to return to the Local and Consent Calendar for floor vote Thursday, April 21, 2011.
When asked why he took such great measures to prevent the bill from going to a vote, Rep. Simpson claimed he wanted the Bill to go to the House Calendar where bills could be debated and amendments could be added. He was quoted in the Texas Tribune as saying "he supports the goals of the bill."
However, when Rep. Simpson's own constituents called his office to ask him why he is trying to kill the bill, especially since irresponsible breeding operations are so rampant in East Texas, and in light of the recent rescue of 167 starving border collies from a breeder in neighboring Marion County, Rep. Simpson and his staff responded with a variety of answers as to why Simpson actually does oppose the bill.
After looking at his arguments against the Bill, none of them stand up to logic. So who is he protecting? Simpson claims his constituents are against the bill, but he is clearly not listening to his constituents who support the Bill. This is obvious as calls have been flooding into his office in support of the Bill. Then who are his constituents against the bill? It is clear that Simpson is protecting the very irresponsible breeders who continue the neglect and abuse of these animals that the Bill aims to protect. The breeders have one concern - their bottom line.
Simpson's attempts to argue against the bill are as follows:
On his website blog, David Simpson claims that the licensing and regulation fees will put breeders out of business. He claims that based on the fiscal note accompanying the bill it will cost each breeding facility $1,300. What he doesn't state is what that amounts to per breeding female dog in the facility. There is no estimate as to how many breeding females these large puppy mills have. Assuming that the average is 25, which is a very very low average, it would cost the breeder approximately $50 per breeding female animal. Also, using very conservative figures, if these breeding females produce one litter a year with six puppies and the puppies are sold at $500 each (very low, some breeds go as high as $2,500 each) the gross income from the offspring of one breeding animal to the breeder would be a minimum of $3,000. Thus the $50 license fee for the breeding female would be 1.66% of the gross income produced by that female. If Mr. Simpson sharpens his pencil he will see that this is virtually nothing to ensure that that same female is given a clean and healthy place to spend her life, adequate food and veterinary care, and proper exercise. Ask Mr. Simpson, is this too much to request of a person who's making large sums of money from this animal?
Furthermore, Simpson claims "The bill would create a new bureaucracy with 11 full time employees". This is untrue as the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, the state agency that would oversee the regulation is an established state agency. The "11 full time employees needed" would mean 11 new jobs created for people in the State. This is a boost to the state economy in a time when unemployment is hitting record highs. The tax payer does not pay this, the industry pays for this. Clearly, Simpson does not care about adding new jobs or boosting the Texas economy.
Representative David Simpson continues on his website stating HB 1451 allowing "warrantless searches." To compare an inspection of a breeder's kennels, to an unauthorized or warrantless search is absurd. Even though the inspector can show up unannounced, he has no authority to enter the premises without being accompanied by the breeder or a representative. This is specifically provided for in the bill. Also, the bill protects a breeder from any entry into the breeder's residence unless a part of the residence is used in the breeding business and even then the entry is limited to only the part that is used for the breeding business. In the many other programs administered by the Department of Licensing and Regulation, unannounced inspections are common place. The federal Animal Welfare Act provides for unannounced inspections. Furthermore, restaurant and hair salon owners have to be licensed and subject to inspection. So why shouldn't high volume dog and cat breeders? The argument that a business owner can't be accountable while still being profitable doesn't hold water. When a restaurant is shut down by the health department, no one seems to argue that it's not in the public's interest to do so.
In addition Rep. Simpson uses the argument that many people opposed to the Bill attempt to use: that current animal cruelty laws are enough and no regulation is needed. If you believe this faulty logic, then you would also agree that because we have laws against child abuse, we don't need regulation for day care facilities. The problem with this argument is animal cruelty laws can only be enforced AFTER an act of cruelty takes place. By the time the animals can be seized they are either dead, starving or dying of disease. HB 1451 is a PREVENTATIVE measure to keep these cruelty cases from happening.
HB 1451 is designed to be proactive and not reactive. It's simply a licensing and regulatory program no different than programs that regulate electricians, plumbers, beauty operators, barbers and many many other businesses. Rep. Simpson needs to ask himself why puppy millers are so fearful of being regulated. Could it be that their dirty little secret of how they treat their breeding animals would come to light and shock the public to which they are selling puppies?
Rep. Simpson may not agree, but most people believe that a female breeding dog or cat that spends her entire life producing puppies for sale should have a safe and comfortable place to live, proper food and water, exercise, and periodic interaction with humans. If as Rep. Simpson says, responsible breeders do this, why are they in such fear of being licensed and regulated?
Please call Rep. David Simpson's office today and ask him to stop trying to kill such an important bill needed so desperately in Texas: (512) 473-0750 .