Texas Sporting Dogs Retain Protection

Texas’ Department of Licensing and Regulations (TDLR) recently adopted final commercial dog breeder regulations that include a crucial sporting dog exemption.

Last year, the Texas legislature passed controversial House Bill 1451 aimed at regulating abusive large commercial dog breeders.  Originally, the bill would have classified many sporting dog owners as commercial dog breeders, subjecting them to numerous unnecessary and costly new regulations, government inspections, and permitting requirements.

The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) and a large coalition of sportsmen, sporting dog organizations, shooting preserves, and other dog groups fought to stop the bill.  Ultimately, HB1451 was amended to protect sporting dog owners before being signed into law.

In January, a TDLR advisory committee released a proposed set of regulations that could have spelled big problems for sporting dog owners.  This proposal contained language that would have required sporting dog owners to “prove” that their dogs were hunting dogs. If unable to satisfactorily prove to the TDLR that dogs were used as sporting dogs, sporting dog owners could have been unfairly regulated as commercial dog breeders despite the exemption included in the law.

In response, the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance filed comments pointing out to the TDLR that it did not have the authority to require proof and asked that the TDLR remove the proposed provisions.

TDLR’s final regulations restore the original sporting dog exemption and will not require sporting dog owners to “prove” that they own sporting dogs.

“The draft rules were in direct contradiction to the law,” said Jeremy Rine, USSA’s in-house counsel and associate director of state services.  “TDLR did not have the authority to require sporting dog owners to prove that their dogs are sporting dogs.  We’re very happy that TDLR took a second look, and removed the sections that could have caused many sporting dog owners to unfairly be regulated as a commercial dog breeder.”

The final regulations for commercial dog breeders will take effect on May 1, 2012.