When people think of Texas, they often think of American traditions, cattle ranching, and people that stand for what they believe in. Unbeknownst to many Texans, their way of life and traditions are being threatened at the core. A powerful and active animal extremist group is in their midst and it is doing its best to instill an extremist vegan agenda that will ultimately ban animal use and animal ownership. This group is the Texas Humane Legislative Network (THLN). THLN introduces animal extremist bills every legislative session, often introducing the same bill year after year, until they are passed. Their ability to do this points to a budget that appears never-ending. In Part Three, we introduce you to THLN’s Endorsed Candidates as well as some of the legislation they have been pushing down the throats of Texans.
THLN has developed a list of “Endorsed Candidates”; those that they have donated to, as well as believe will further THLN’s agenda. THLN has given these lawmakers a catchy and fully misleading name, “Animal Approved” candidates. THLN does not play partisan politics. They choose their candidates based on the candidate demonstrating he or she has a “dedication to advancing animal welfare legislation.” THLN further states that while they understand voters consider a range of issues and factors when voting, they are there to, “simply to highlight the legislators who have a history of supporting animal welfare legislation.”
Since 2018, over $60,000 has been given to Texas candidates from HSUS, THLN, and a few individuals. A couple of those individuals are Robert “Skip” Trimble and T. Boone Pickens, both of who follow animal extremism ideology.
THLN donates not only to their Animal Approved legislators, but also to others not on the list. It was not hard to find that some legislator’s names seem to crop up repeatedly legislative session after session and there are certain bills that seem to also crop up every two years. This legislation is not aimed at true animal welfare, it is aimed at furthering an animal extremist ideology.
THLN favored politicians have put forward no less than four “restraint of dogs” bills for this session alone. There are three bills relating to a sales and use tax exemption for animals adopted from or sold by a shelter or rescue.
THLN’s special Animal Approved legislators like to add more and more regulations that are redundant and not needed in a state that already has very strict animal cruelty laws. Texas is ranked #11 out of 50 states according to a ranking done in 2020 by, of all groups, Animal Legal Defense Fund. To view click HERE
THLN is very proud of the legislation they push and nowhere is it more apparent than on their website. Under the tab of “Legislation” are subtabs like Find your Legislator, Texas Legislation 101, 2021 Legislative Session, 2021 Legislative priorities, Victories, Voting Records, and Tethering Toolkit - where they teach you to “Learn How to Pass a Tethering Ordinance in your community.” Under that is a catchy phrase “Legislate to Change Their Fate.”
In 2011HB 1451 was passed and was related to the licensing and regulation of certain dog and cat breeders. This bill affected all large commercial breeders currently licensed by the USDA. The law considered any owner with 11 or more intact females, or who sold more than 20 dogs in a year, to be an inhumane and illegal breeding facility. Not surprisingly, breeders who worked hard to improve their animal’s genetics, or produced purpose-bred dogs for sale were horrified. They were already abiding by the Animal Welfare Act and USDA guidelines, and now, a bill sponsored by a representative who has a strong animal extremist viewpoint was hindering them further.
Three breeders and the Responsible Pet Owners Alliance (RPOA), which represented 305 American Kennel Club groups in Texas, filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking that the bill be struck down as unconstitutional. However, an amicus curiae was filed by THLN with support from HSUS urging the court to uphold the bill. In January 2013, the bill was upheld by a federal district judge.
Why did Texas breeders and responsible pet owners fight so hard against this bill? According to a blog published here, HB 1451 “establishes a new state bureaucracy to regulate home dog and cat breeders mandating inspections of private property, large fees and enormous fines. The new law allows the right of entry into citizen’s homes without a warrant and without the owner’s presence.” Further, the blog stated that the new law “establishes a ‘bounty fund’ to activists for reporting dog and cat breeders to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). The bill regulates law abiding Texas citizens and hampers economic and business growth in order to promote the private agenda of heavily financed special interest groups. The HSUS/ASPCA/PETA backed bill violates personal property rights, contradicting key values that (then) Governor Perry professes to uphold…”
The Licensed Breeder Program was initially proposed to regulate 1000 kennels, however that number was reduced to 600 when Rep. David Simpson questioned the number. The USDA and AKC numbers of breeders in the state did not even reach the 600-kennel estimate. Ironically, the regulating of the kennels depended on the 600-kennel number so that it would be a “revenue neutral” bill. Instead, it has been a cost to taxpayers and was never held accountable.
A member of the Licensed Breeder Advisory Committee, Past President of Texas Veterinary Medical Association Dr. Lori Teller, resigned her position with this statement: “I am resigning my position on the Advisory Committee. Unfortunately, I do not feel that we are going down the right road to improve animal welfare by stopping puppy mill breeders while encouraging the good breeders to continue. I think we are driving the good breeders out of business and sending the bad breeders underground, where they will continue to crank out unhealthy animals and continue the cycle of neglect and abuse. The breeders who do seriously care about the animals they raise and improving the breeds they are passionate about will either be out of business, or at the least, out of state. Certainly, we are not making life better for either the citizens or the animals of Texas.”
This is a powerful statement when one realizes that this is a true animal welfare advocate – one who has spent years studying veterinary medicine and treating her patients, rather than someone who has no background in animal welfare or animal husbandry.
In 2020, the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission, an agency of the Texas legislature that evaluates state agencies and makes recommendations to the legislature on the need for, performance of, and improvement to agencies under review, studied the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, and the Licensed Breeder program. This is done every 12 years, so it was the first time the Licensed Breeder Program was looked at. On June 11, 2020, the AKC Legislative Alerts page stated that the Sunset Commission recommended that the Licensed Breeder Act be eliminated, and to expect opposition. To view click HERE
A paragraph from the article states: “The Sunset Advisory Commission’s June 2020 Staff Report has recommended that the Licensed Breeders Program, along with fourteen other TDLR occupational licensing programs, is not necessary to protect the public. In its findings, it implies that the law as enacted is fundamentally flawed, as it provides significant statutory exemptions and unenforceable requirements that undermine both the program’s goals and the agency’s efforts. Moreover, program revenues have been found to not cover administration of the Licensed Breeder Program; yet despite these disproportionately high administrative costs, the Commission found that Texans still primarily rely on protections that predate the program.”
In August of 2020, the American Kennel Club commented on the Sunset Advisory Commission’ recommendation to eliminate the Licensed Breeders Program. In their statement, the AKC states that they support reasonable and enforceable laws that protect the welfare and health of dogs and do not restrict the rights of breeders and owners who meet their responsibilities. The text of the full statement can be found here.
Unfortunately, even with numerous comments, the support of the AKC, and the Sunset Advisory Commission’s proposal to eliminate the Licensed Breeders Program, THLN and the animal extremist legislators and lobbyists, convinced the commission to keep the Licensed Breeders Program. On THLN’s website, they boast “We Saved The Licensed Breeders’ Program” and “The Good News: after intense grassroots and lobby outreach, the Commission has voted to MAINTAIN the Texas Licensed Breeders Program and continue to stop puppy mills from operating across Texas.” To read the article click HERE
There are several animal related bills that THLN is highlighting on their website. The information regarding these bills can sometimes be difficult to track due to changes as they move through the legislative process. As an example, HB 873 one of the four bills dealing with the restraint of dogs, no longer appears as it did on the website originally. Here is a listing of animal related bills being pushed by THLN this session in the state of Texas:
House Bill 91- authored by Eddie Lucio lll (his father is State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr.), this bill has been presented in 2011, 2019, and 2021 and the title reads: “Relating to conditions of community supervision for defendants convicted of certain criminal offenses involving animals.” It basically sets forth the conditions that if a judge grants community supervision of an offense under penal codes 42.09; 42.091; 42.092; 42.10 or 42.105; the judge may require the defendant to relinquish custody of any animals in the defendant’s possession; prohibit the defendant from possessing or exercising control over any animals or residing in a household where animals are present; or require the defendant to participate in a psychological counseling or other appropriate treatment program for a period to be determined by the court. The above listed penal codes are, in order, cruelty to livestock, attack on an assistance animal; cruelty to non-livestock animals; dog fighting or cock fighting.
It is very apparent that THLN’s endorsed candidates, while sponsoring other bills as well, can be counted upon to author, co-author, or sponsor THLN’s animal extremist leaning bills.
On THLN’s website under their Legislative Priorities tab it states:
“The Issue: Currently, Texas state law attempts to define the standards of shelter for animals that are left outdoors. However, the law is not working as intended, which means that animals suffer especially in extreme conditions. In such conditions, dogs left outside become aggressive and agitated, desperate for shelter and relief from the elements. Law enforcement cannot intervene in this kind of cruelty due to the current law requiring a mandatory warning before taking action. This warning stays in effect for twenty-four hours and is required each time, even for the same dog outside on the same chain day after day. In short, the situation is never resolved until a tragedy has struck a community member or the animal itself.
The Solution: The Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN) has been working since 2015 to clarify the current law and ensure Texas keeps outdoor dogs safe-safe for them and safe for us. During the upcoming legislative session beginning in January, THLN is more dedicated than ever to passing the “safe outdoor dogs” bill, HB 873.” https://www.thln.org/legislative-priorities
THLN endorsed candidates have authored/sponsored FOUR bills relating to the unlawful restraint of a dog. Protect The Harvest believes strongly in animal welfare and with extreme temperatures in the summer, as well as the recent polar vortex that crippled over 70% of the state, we absolutely agree with the use of PROPER restraint as well as proper shelter. Tethering, as a restraint itself, is not abusive, nor should it be a criminal offense. Many hunting dogs and working dogs are successfully trained with a tethering system.
HB 873’s language is contradictory. In the Definitions section, “restraint means a chain, rope…” yet under the Unlawful Restraint of a Dog; Offense, it specifically outlaws the use of a chain to tether. Dogs can, do and will chew through anything they can if they want to escape a tether. In addition, there is already a statute in place on the restraint/tethering of dogs that is enforceable and complete, Health and Safety Code Sec. 821.077. Unlawful Restraint of Dog
The American Kennel Club (AKC) has issued their statement on tethering. In part, their statement reads “Texas House Bill 873, which seeks to rewrite the state’s dog tethering law…would replace Texas’ current dog tethering statutes with updated provisions. The bill would allow for a dog to be kept outside and unattended if it is provided adequate shelter, the area the dog is kept in allows it to avoid standing water, provides shade from direct sunlight, and is provided potable water. The bill would not allow the restraint of a dog kept outside and unattended by use of a chain restraint, a weighted chain, or does not meet the minimum length standards (10 feet, or 5 times the length of the dog, whichever is greater).”
HB 873 also updates exceptions under the tethering restrictions, however, exceptions are very easily changed in subsequent bills as those who are in animal extremist groups well know.
The full text of HB 873 can be found HERE
The American Dog Breeders Association’s (ADBA) statement on dog containment (https://adbadog.com/dog-containment/) falls under the heading of Responsible Ownership. Among other things, “ADBA favors all forms of dog containment as long as the dog is trained, socialized, exercised and given proper attention, the containment method is not a factor in its behavior or temperament. Dog behavior only becomes problematic when a dog is not properly trained, not properly socialized, and not given proper attention.”
“A strong center mount attachment may be employed to safely tether a dog. That mount may be made of a length of rebar bent into a hairpin shape and sunk in cement two feet deep, leaving four inches of the bend above ground or any other strong, escape-proof type mount, including an automobile axel. Large steel O-ring complete with a swivel to correct any twisting of the chain of sufficient strength that it cannot be broken. The chain must be at a minimum five times the length of the dog. The collar should be of buckle type, leather or nylon – not chain – with a welded O-ring with swivel for chain attachment and of a strength and quality that is equivalent to the test strength of the chain. The collar should be tight enough to prevent escape while loose enough to allow two fingers to be able to slip under it. Collars must be checked regularly to insure proper fit. Remove any entanglement obstacles from the immediate area. Adequate shelter must be provided along the perimeter of the tether area to protect the dog comfortably from the elements. Shade must be available at all times of the day. The dog should have daily off tether times each day for training, play, and/or attention. A perimeter fence should be in place to prevent the trespass by children or animals not belonging to the dog owner. Constant inspection and maintenance is required of any containment type used.”
Cornell University published a study on “Comparison of Tethering and Pen Confinement” showing the difference in activity, temperament, standing on hind legs, lying in shelters, eating food, pacing etc., and found that while tethering is “intuitively less acceptable, the fact that the dogs rarely pulled at their chains and the lack of major differences in behavior indicate that tethering may be an acceptable housing method, but this may depend on the breed and experience of the dog. Our findings provide no evidence that tethering was any more or less detrimental to dog welfare than being housed in pens.”
To review click HERE
Groups that ascribe to an animal extremist ideology are not a friend to animals, no matter what they claim. THLN’s animal extremist ideology is apparent by simply reviewing their Board and Advisory Board’s heavy connections with other known animal extremist groups like the HSUS, ASPCA, ALDF, American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) and Animal Wellness Action (AWA). Additional evidence of their animal extremist ideology is their push to indoctrinate the children of Texas via schools with the Junior Advocacy Program. THLN’s Humane Library lists books that clearly were written to influence children and to become vegan. THLN’s list of Endorsed Candidates, and the multiple attempts to introduce either new egregious and overreaching legislation, or repeat legislation that failed previously, and attempting to add to existing animal cruelty statutes making them even more confusing and overreaching, makes their ideology even more clear.
All of these add up to demonstrating animal extremist ideology. The goal of animal extremist groups is to end animal ownership and animals in human care. Their strategy is to go about it incrementally, in small bites so that the general public does not notice until it is too late. Texas, it is time to push back against the tyrannical grip that THLN is attempting to place on your animals, on your livelihood and even your children.
Read Part 1 for an introduction to THLN HERE
Read Part 2 to learn about how THLN is working to influence the children of Texas HERE
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