2.18.11 - Parties find common ground on animal-rights legislation
Issue Links: Texas Animal Laws
Summary: Reps. Senfronia Thompson, a liberal Democrat from Houston, and Wayne Christian, a conservative Republican from East Texas, have each authored legislation endorsed by statewide and national animal rights groups that pushed their platform at the Capitol on Thursday.
By ERIN MULVANEY, Austin Bureau - email@example.com Dallas Morning News / Published 17 February 2011 11:35 PM
AUSTIN — The legislative session is rife with hard-line partisan battles, but one issue — protecting animals — has united lawmakers from the far right and left of the political spectrum.
Reps. Senfronia Thompson, a liberal Democrat from Houston, and Wayne Christian, a conservative Republican from East Texas, have each authored legislation endorsed by statewide and national animal rights groups that pushed their platform at the Capitol on Thursday.
“Here in Texas, we may have our voter identification and [abortion-restriction] bills, but this shows we still have some common ground,” said Christian’s chief of staff, Jon McClellan.
The Humane Society of the United States , the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Texas Humane Legislation Network endorsed Thompson’s bill that would require a large-scale commercial dog or cat breeder to have a license. Christian’s measure would establish penalties for cockfighting.
“I’m sure anyone from any party would want this, whether they are Democrat, Republican, independent or in the tea party,” Thompson said.
That doesn’t mean there’s no opposition, though, given the state’s historically loose regulation of animal control, said ASPCA governmental relations director Jill Buckley. The same measures were filed two years ago and faced fierce opposition, partly from breeders and ranchers.
Mary Beth Duerler, executive director of the Responsible Pet Owners Alliance, said certain animal rights groups have an agenda to end all pet ownership.
“They equate animal ownership to slavery,” she said.
She sent a letter to her group, which includes pet owners, breeders, ranchers and herders, warning of organizations that are “opposed to eating meat, wearing leather, hunting, fishing and our Texas rodeo.”
Still, Republican Jim Pitts from Waxahachie is one of the co-sponsors of Thompson’s bill, and Democratic Rep. Eddie Lucio from Brownsville is co-sponsoring Christian’s cockfighting measure.
Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, authored a bill endorsed by the groups that would require a bitter agent be added to antifreeze to prevent animals from drinking it.
Animal rights legislation doesn’t have a partisan tint to it, he said, but other issues may overshadow such bills this year.
“Last time I checked, cats and dogs don’t have a vote. A lot of times, that’s what a lot of us think,” he said.
Measures endorsed Thursday by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Humane Society of the United States and the Texas Humane Legislation Network:Puppy mills:
Would require a breeder with 11 or more breeding females to obtain a license. The breeder’s facility would have to have an annual inspection.Cockfighting:
Would categorize cockfighting as an organized criminal activity, subject to a misdemeanor or felony charge.Antifreeze:
Would require the addition of a bitter flavor agent to engine coolant or antifreeze to prevent poisoning of animals and children.
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