A new licensing policy has small dog and cat breeders re-defining their business, and the bark may just be bigger than the bite.
The license becomes mandatory September 1. It is required if a breeder has 11 or more adult female dogs or cats meant for breeding, they are in the business of direct or indirect sales. The same applies if the breeder sells or exchanges 20 or more animals per year.
Private breeders say they do not like the license because it sets standards many can not meet. Private breeders and animal shelters do not see eye to eye.
"We'd like to see more animals adopted and fewer animals die unnecessarily, and a lot of those animals are bred animals that are put down," Mary Hatfield, president of the Humane Society of West Texas, said.
Behavior and training specialist Anne Humphrys said breeders object to the licensing so strongly that they have filed suit.
"The responsible pet owners alliance today filed lawsuit against it and we plan to go ahead and work through normal legislative processes to try to get it fixed or repealed," Humphreys said.
"I think there are plenty of cats and dogs in the world so that is kind of a difference in our background and where we are coming from, which is a world where animals are thrown away," Hatfield said.
The license requirement may make smaller breeders get out of the business. Hatfield said that may be a good thing and it may help save animals because shelters might have less competition.
Anne Humphreys said the license requirement might cause more problems that it solves.
"With an anonymous tip that somebody might be an unlicensed breeder, it gives authorities permission to conduct a warrantable search of their home," Humphreys said. "Now, I don't know what country you live in, but that wasn't a country or state I singed up for."
While Humphreys wants the licensing gone, Hatfield wants it stronger.
"I think it could use more teeth," Hatfield said. "I think the penalties for not following the regulations are not very server and I think that they could be a little tougher too."
Humphreys said the license requirement will cost the state more that it originally estimated.