Puppy mills bill aims to crack down on 'backyard breeders'

There's a bill aimed at cutting down on puppy mills, or so called 'backyard breeders.'

The bill would require breeders with 11 or more unspayed female dogs to get licensed and be subject to inspections every 18 months.

In some cases, puppies and cats haven't gotten the best treatment.

"It's a big problem, because those that run puppy mills and mistreat the animals, give breeders a bad name, and people suspect all breeders are that way," said Pedro Javier Wong.

Wong has been breeding pups since 1995.

"It's very important to take care of the animals. There needs to be adequate ventilation, everything needs to be constantly disinfected," he said. "They need to be washed, the hygeine is very important because if one animal gets sick--they can all get infected."

House Bill 1451 wants to ensure that dog and cat breeders are adequately trained in caring for the animals.

They would also need to receive a license from the State Department of Licensing and Regulation and undergo state inspections at least once every 18 months.

"I think it's a good thing so that all breeders can follow the rules and everyone will work well," said Wong.

Critics said puppy mill owners will avoid getting licensed which is only punishable by a fine.

RGV Low Cost Spay and Neuter clinic manager Arlene Campos-Smith said puppy mills or backyard breeders are a big problem in the Rio Grande Valley.

"I think it's countless in this area," said Campos-Smith. "I think it's an easy buck."

She said they contribute to the overpopulation of animals in the Valley.

In Hidalgo county alone, there's an estimated 400,000 dogs and cats.

Over 65,000 of them living under the poverty level and likely roaming the streets.

Campos-Smith said that the Valley has one of the highest populations of animals here in Texas, and the key to reducing overpopulation is spaying and neutering.

She said the only way this bill will work is if law enforcement and the state could provide enough resources to crack down on these illegal breeders.

House Bill 1451 passed the Senate Criminal Justice Committee last week and it is now awaiting its chance on the Senate floor.