PETA Lawsuit Claiming Sea World Whales are “Slaves” is Thrown Out

By Jeremy Rine, In House Counsel, Associate Director of State Services

Last November, I blogged about a lawsuit filed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) against Sea World. In the suit, PETA claimed that whales kept by Sea World were “slaves” and as such, Sea World was violating the 13th Amendment of the Constitution – the amendment that abolished slavery.  PETA wanted the court to rule that the 13th Amendment applied to both people and animals.

I am happy to report that the lawsuit was recently thrown out. Judge Jeffery T. Miller of the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of California ruled what all of us already knew to be true – that “the only reasonable interpretation of the Thirteenth Amendment’s plain language is that it applies to persons, and not to non-persons such as orcas.”

In other words, PETA’s attempt to have animals elevated to the same legal status as people didn’t work on Judge Miller.

My question is this: how far will groups like PETA go to push their radical agendas?

From this case, it looks like there are no limits.  They’re obviously willing to try something as offensive as manipulating the 13th Amendment, a defining moment for human rights and our country, to force their beliefs on the rest of us.

Sadly, we all know that this loss won’t stop them from filing more lawsuits and continuing to pressure lawmakers to pass animal rights legislation.  That’s why USSA will continue to fight to protect your right to hunt, fish, and trap.

Obama Administration Grabs for Broader Powers

By Bill Horn, Director of Federal Affairs

In a controversial new policy, the Obama Administration plans to broaden the reach of the already far reaching federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The new policy will make it easier to list more species of fish and wildlife as “endangered or threatened” and more broadly impose the ESA’s many restrictions. Greater limitations on fishing and hunting, wildlife management, and public land access are a likely result.

The proposed policy, released on December 9 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), see which newly interprets an old statutory term in the ESA:  “a significant portion of its range,” or SPR for short.  Under the new interpretation, if a species is endangered or threatened in its SPR, it will be listed (and subject to the full range of ESA restrictions) in ALL areas where it is found even if not endangered or threatened in those other areas.  The policy admits “we recognize this interpretation may lead to application of the protections of the Act in areas in which a species is not currently endangered or threatened with extinction, and in some circumstances may lead to the expenditure of resources without concomitant conservation benefits.”

Furthermore, those federal agencies admit that “application of the draft policy would result in the Services listing and protecting throughout their ranges species that previously we would not have listed, or would have listed in only portions of their ranges.”

Previously the SPR term had been regarded as a restriction on determining the existence of endangered or threatened species and the geographic scope of related ESA restrictions. In fact, when the original ESA was signed into law in 1973, that was precisely the meaning ascribed to SPR:  “the term ‘significant portion of its range’ is used … to provide the Secretary with the authority to protect a [fish or wildlife] population [not the whole species] unique to some portion of the country.”  The proposed Obama policy turns this intent on its head and recasts SPR as the basis for expanding species listings and the on-the-ground effect of such listings.

What does this mean to anglers and hunters?  U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance is worried that it gives the anti-angling, anti-hunting animal rights lobby more ammunition to attack our community.  For example, activists have been pushing hard to put sage grouse on the list of endangered or threatened species.  If they can show that the grouse are “threatened” in one area (and it’s a “significant portion of its range”), then all of the grouse could be listed – and made off limits to hunting everywhere. Anglers could face similar restrictions – get a species listed because it is in trouble in one area, then it’s off-limits everywhere because “this interpretation may lead to application of the protections [and restrictions] of the Act in areas in which a species is not currently endangered or threatened.”

Besides these threats – plainly stated in the proposed policy – new rounds of litigation impacting a wide variety of fish and wildlife species are almost guaranteed.  The policy opines that “Congressional intent regarding the SPR phrase is unclear” and admits that court rulings interpreting the phrase are also inconsistent.  The USFWS and NMFS are plowing ahead to twist and broaden the meaning of this phrase which will spawn litigation, create more costs to taxpayers, and open more opportunities for activists, including activist judges, to call the shots on fish and wildlife management.

We shouldn’t be surprised by this action.  Broader federal power, more regulations, hostility to state management of fish and wildlife, and a determination to spend more federal money (even where public benefits aren’t clear) have been hallmarks of the Obama Administration.  Reinterpreting the ESA as part of its continuing federal power grab is just par for the course.

USSA has carefully read 20 pages of Federal Register fine print and will be re-reading it again to see if there are any other buried regulatory “gotchas.”  Public comments can be filed by February 7, 2012, and you can be sure we will be registering our strong opposition.

National Park Service Pushing Land Grab

By Bill Horn, Director of Federal Affairs

The National Park Service (NPS) is eyeing important hunting lands for inclusion in a large new West Virginia park unit.  Apparently the agency is looking at establishing this new unit – the High Allegheny National Park — in the Allegheny Mountains of eastern West Virginia.  Most of the land under review is presently part of the Monongahela National Forest and Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge – both of which have long hunting traditions.  I have hunted ruffed grouse, woodcock, and turkeys in these areas for years, and just last year I wrote an article in The Pointing Dog Journal about the rich hunting history of this area.

Hunters and anglers need to watch this park study, and NPS, like a hawk.  The agency is historically hostile to hunters, becoming increasingly hostile to anglers, and is flat out opposed to wildlife and habitat management (both activities are important on Forest and Refuge lands).  Plus, almost all NPS units are “parks” where hunting is prohibited. Having NPS take over management of wonderful hunting areas within the Forest, like Spruce Knob and Dolly Sods, sends shivers down this hunter’s spine.

Some park proponents are already trying to assure hunters that hunting will be protected in the new park.  I’m not buying it.  We have seen the value of similar promises in the Big Cypress National Preserve (a NPS unit) in Florida where hunters have been harassed and systematically restricted for years.  Even when the agency isn’t doing the restricting, anti-hunting activists are in federal court every other year pushing new limitations in the name of endangered species, wilderness “solitude”, protection of vegetation, and adverse impact on the tender aesthetic sensibilities of non-hunting visitors (of whom there are few).

Even stronger legal protections for hunting on Refuge lands have barely been adequate to protect hunting. Antis tried to shut down hunting in the Canaan Valley Refuge via a federal lawsuit filed in Washington, DC.  U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance helped fight off that suit, but it revealed that saving hunting on federal land units remains a challenge. Similar problems impacting hunting and wildlife management on Forest lands has prompted USSA and others in the hunting community to push for the enactment of new a bill – HR 2834 – that keeps hunting (and fishing and shooting) open on the National Forest system.

Recently, the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee favorably reported the bill which should be on the House of Representatives floor in January. If we can barely protect hunting on the Canaan unit, where a 1997 law makes hunting (and fishing) “priority public uses”, and need new statutory protections for hunting on Forest lands (like the Monongahela), how are we going to ensure continued hunting and access on a new High Allegheny National Park?

None of this makes on-the-ground sense. The thousands of acres of public land within the Monongahela National Forest, and the Canaan Refuge, are committed to conservation (and open to hunting). The lands are subject to professional habitat management by the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources.

You can kiss bona fide conservation management, and habitat projects, goodbye if NPS takes over.  It treats lands like “biospheres under glass” where management to help fish and wildlife is considered a sin against nature and hunters are surely not welcome. As far as hunters and anglers are concerned, bringing in NPS adds absolutely nothing and guarantees nothing but protracted fighting to retain the hunting heritage in West Virginia’s Allegheny Mountains.

USSA will be monitoring this closely because of its broad consequences for hunters and anglers (and because I don’t want some of the East’s favorite grouse hunting woods under NPS control).

PETA Lawsuit Claims Killer Whales at SeaWorld are “Slaves”

By Jeremy Rine, Associate Director of State Services

PETA, the radical animal rights group, is at it again. They’ve recently sued SeaWorld claiming that killer whales kept by the company in Florida and California are “slaves.”  PETA’s attorneys argue that the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, applies to animals as well as people because the language does not specify that it only applies to people.  The lawsuit is on “behalf” of the killer whales kept at SeaWorld’s San Diego and Orlando locations.  Essentially, PETA is also claiming that the killer whales themselves can go to court and sue SeaWorld.

We’re used to seeing these types of publicity stunts out of PETA, and we all scorn them for their distastefulness and laugh at how outrageous these folks are. We dismiss stunts like these as crazy because no judge in their right mind would ever agree with them….Right?

Certainly we all hope that is the case, but what if it’s not?

This lawsuit highlights just how dangerous these well-funded and radical animal rights organizations can be.  Animal rights organizations, like PETA and the Humane Society of the U.S., are continually spending huge amounts of money hiring attorneys to pour through federal and state laws looking for loopholes or vaguely worded laws that they can use to file lawsuits like this one.

There are a few reasons animal rights groups do this.  The first, and probably the scariest, is that someday they may get a judge to actually agree with them.  These groups will keep throwing money at attorneys in the hopes that they can find a loophole and the right judge who agrees with them.

A couple of bad court decisions could mean that your dog, or your daughter’s guinea pig, could be filing a lawsuit against you.

Another reason these radical groups file these off-the-wall lawsuits is the cost. They want folks like SeaWorld to have to spend their money to pay attorneys and fight it in court.

Think about this.  The lawsuit against SeaWorld may not affect you right now, but what if the same lawsuit was filed against the dairy farm that your milk comes from?  Even though the farmer likely wins in court, he still has to spend his own money hiring an attorney to fight this nonsense.  After a few of these lawsuits, the cost of your milk could go through the roof to offset the legal fees he’s had to pay to keep his farm open.

Finally, they file these lawsuits to make news headlines and bring in money.  What we call a publicity stunt, the animal rights groups call fundraising – and its fundraising they’re doing so they can take another shot at advancing their radical animal rights agenda.

Overall, to the regular person this lawsuit may look distasteful, dumb, and a waste of time, but to animal rights activists like PETA, it is a calculated way to push their radical agenda and raise money.

The Economics and Common Sense of Sunday Hunting

By Evan Heusinkveld, Director of State Services

Great interest has been taken in the debate over Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania this year.  When you drill down into the facts of the debate, however, I find the reasoning behind the uproar utterly perplexing.

Let’s start with the numbers.  There are multiple economic impact studies that have been completed during the past five years. The first was produced by the Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC).  The LBFC is a bipartisan committee made up of six members each from the House and the Senate.  Their report, which was issued in 2005, estimated that Sunday hunting would create 5,300 new jobs and generate $629 million of economic impact each year in Pennsylvania.

Those numbers were supported by two additional recent studies. The first was produced by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) earlier this year.  NSSF’s study projected 8,200 jobs and a $764 million impact– a substantial increase over the 2005 study.  Just last week, the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance released its own study – done using the exact same criteria used for the 2005 LBFC study and simply updating the numbers based on the most recent data available.  This study showed a creation of 7,200 jobs and $777 million in economic activity.

My point is this – whether we are talking about an additional $650 million or $750 million, or 5,300 verses 8,200 jobs , we’re still talking about injecting more than a half-BILLION dollars into the Commonwealth’s economy each year and creating thousands of new jobs.

The second item that I find baffling is the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s position: they are actively advocating for a policy that RESTRICTS their own members’ property rights.  That’s right, by not allowing landowners – or hunters – to decide for themselves if they want to allow or partake in Sunday hunting, property rights are being restricted with the blessing and encouragement of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.

Additionally, it’s presumptuous of the Farm Bureau to think that they should be able to dictate what happens on ALL PUBLIC and PRIVATE lands in the Commonwealth.  Do farmers own a significant amount of land in Pennsylvania?  Absolutely, and hunter’s often benefit from the use of it, just as farmers benefit from sportsmen controlling game populations by hunting.  But farmers don’t own all the land – not even close.  What gives Farm Bureau the right to tell every landowner in the state what they can and cannot do on their own land?

The bottom line is this:  Under House Bill 1760, farmers (and regular landowners) will have the same ability to restrict when and if hunters can access their land on Sundays  just as they do Monday through Saturday right now.  House Bill 1760 merely puts control of setting seasons and bag limits into the hands of the appropriate governmental agency—the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

At the end of the day, there are many arguments that have been tossed about as to why Pennsylvania should continue to treat sportsmen and sportswomen different from other citizens – some more perplexing than others.  But why in 2011, is the state of Pennsylvania still telling landowners that they are not able to decide how to use their own land on Sunday?  And what cost to the Commonwealth’s coffers is the legislature willing to accept to continue this outdated ban on Sunday hunting?

Join the Fight:  Like us at, become a Sentry to stay informed of the latest battles in your areas, and consider a donation to help the cause.

Bear Attack Serves As Reminder of the Importance of Wildlife Management and Hunting

By Jeremy Rine, Associate Director of State Services

Recently I was reading a news report on about a black bear that mauled two young campers, ages 11 and 12, at the Stokes State Forest in New Jersey.  You can click here to read the story.  Luckily, neither was seriously injured and after being checked out at a hospital both were able to return to their camping trip.

The article had me thinking about wildlife management, hunting’s vital role in wildlife management, and the long battle to allow hunting was a wildlife management tool for black bears in New Jersey.

Until last year, black bear hunting had been banned in New Jersey despite wildlife managers recognizing the need to use it as a tool to manage the state’s growing bear population.  In 2006, the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation challenged a political decision by the former Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner, Lisa Jackson, to cancel a planned black bear hunt.  Last year, under a new administration, the state approved and successfully held a bear hunt as part of its overall bear management plan for the state.

During the time when bear hunting was not allowed, the state’s bear population grew rapidly and so did the potential that bears would conflict with people.   Between only January and mid-June in 2010, the DEP reported that there were more than 1,200 bear incidents with 76 of those incidents being considered “aggressive.”

During this time, state wildlife managers had been handcuffed by politics and couldn’t use one of the most effective management tools to keep bear numbers at safe levels – hunting.

Without management, wildlife populations can grow to levels that are both unhealthy to the long term survivability of wildlife and that are unsafe for humans because wildlife will inevitably roam into populated areas or become more aggressive in search of food.  Management tools like hunting and trapping have been proven to be some of the most effective means to keep wildlife populations in check.

I’m not saying that hunting prevents all human-wildlife conflicts or even that bear hunting would have prevented the unfortunate incident that happened this week in New Jersey.  However, successful wildlife management does serve to reduce the number of those conflicts and hunting and trapping play major roles in the effectiveness of wildlife management across the country.  Like other wildlife in New Jersey and across the country, bears need to be managed to be kept at healthy, safe, and sustainable populations.

On top of its effectiveness as a management tool, hunting brings in millions of dollars to the states for wildlife conservation.  Hunters pay for the opportunity to help manage wildlife when they buy licenses and permits and they pay excise taxes when they buy hunting equipment.  All of this money goes back into wildlife conservation to the benefit of all – including anti-hunters – as this money pays for most of the wildlife conservation efforts in each state.

Remember the importance of wildlife management and hunting the next time you’re driving and a deer doesn’t run out in front of your car or when you’re camping and a bear doesn’t try to rummage through your tent with you still in it.  Maybe even thank a hunter for the role they play in ensuring that our country’s wildlife will be enjoyed for generations to come.

Pennsylvania Farm Bureau Finds an Ally in its Fight Against Sunday Hunting: The Animal Rights Lobby

By Rob Sexton, Vice President For Government Affairs

For many years,  the fight to prevent Pennsylvania sportsmen from having the same rights as sportsmen in 39 other states has been led by the Farm Bureau.  Which is ironic, of course, because their opposition means that they are actually asking the government to prevent their own members – farmers – from being able to decide how to use their own land.

While you are free to go watch the Steelers play football in Pittsburgh on Sunday, or the Phillies play baseball on the other side of the state, you are not free to go hunting.  Because Pennsylvania remains one of the few states left that retains this old “blue law.”

Sportsmen, though seem much more determined this time to have the right to choose which day they will hunt.  Uniting under the banner of the Sunday Hunting Coalition, national and state sportsmen’s organizations and sporting goods businesses are pressing Pennsylvania legislators to overturn the ban. In response, State Representatives John Evans (R) and Ed Staback (D) introduced House Bill 1760 to do just that.

Predictably, sportsmen have been met with opposition from the Farm Bureau.  And now the effort to kill House Bill 1760 includes the most powerful animal rights organization in Pennsylvania, and the whole country for that matter, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

That the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and HSUS could wind up on the same side of a fight over hunting and landowner rights stretches the imagination to the breaking point.

It is HSUS that called bacon and eggs the “Breakfast of Cruelty.”  It is HSUS that champions ballot issues across the U.S. to force farmers into more costly animal confinement methods that hurt their bottom lines and drive up food prices.  It is HSUS that opposes hunting.

And yet it is HSUS that is on the same side of this fight as the PA Farm Bureau.

And there is simply no logical or defensible reason for this to be the case.

There are no biological reasons to restrict Sunday hunting.  Wildlife will continue to thrive.  There are no safety reasons to defeat House Bill 1760.  Hunting is remarkably safe.  There are no reasons to have the government tell landowners what they can do with their own property.  Under House Bill 1760, a farmer can still refuse to allow hunting on Sundays, as they can the other six days of the week.  Trespass is not a concern.  Trespass rates are very low and Sundays do not provoke greater incidents than Saturdays for instance.

And last, Sunday hunting will produce a meaningful economic impact in Pennsylvania – a fact that is welcome news in this recession.

Where in the world in all of this news is there a reason to oppose passage of House Bill 1760?

For HSUS it is simple.  They oppose hunting.  They claim these days, that they only oppose cruel practices.  Their definition of cruelty includes bowhunting, which helps reduce crop damage from whitetail deer.  It includes trapping, which helps control disease carrying animals from spreading rabies.  It includes hunting bears, which helps to reduce livestock losses.

The list goes on and on.  HSUS is anti-hunting.  HSUS is anti-livestock farming.  While they try to project a less radical image, the truth is the organization is run by well-known animal rights activists who have spent their lives in the crusade to stop hunting and farming practices involving animals.

It is really easy to understand why HSUS opposes House Bill 1760.  They know that hunting on Sunday will strengthen the future of hunting by allowing families a day to be in the field together when work or school does not compete.

But it is not easy at all to understand why the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is on the same side.

In fact it makes no sense at all.   Hunters and farmers should be on the same side.  We are natural allies.

Take Action! The animal rights and anti-hunting organizations are pulling out all the stops to flood members of the House of Representatives and the Senate with phone calls, email, letters and more. 

Pennsylvania sportsmen must reach out to their state representative today in support of HB 1760.  Tell them that there is no justification for the ban on Sunday hunting.  Tell them that the time has come for sportsmen and sportswomen to be treated as first class citizens.  Removing the ban will increase hunter opportunity, encourage new hunter participation, and boost the state’s economy.

To find your state representative’s contact information, use the USSA Legislative Action Center at

State Legislation Not the Only Threat To Sportsmen and Sporting Dog Owners

By Jeremy Rine, Associate Director of State SErvices

Last week, the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance and its Sporting Dog Defense Coalition alerted Oklahoma sportsmen to a proposed local ordinance that would have prohibited most sporting dog owners in Tulsa from keeping more than three dogs.

This brought up a good point for sporting dog owners, and all sportsmen for that matter, to consider:  Local laws and ordinances can be just as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than legislation being considered in your state’s capitol.

Local laws passed by your city council, county commissioners, or trustees have the same effect as a state law.  The only difference is that a local law applies only to a specific area of the state like a city or a county.  Simply put, if your local government passes a law that says you can’t do something, then you can’t do it.  This makes local laws just as dangerous to sportsmen and sporting dog owners as state laws.

On top of that, local laws are often passed with few people knowing they were even being considered.  Local lawmakers often have shorter legislative processes, are quicker to pass laws as a knee jerk reaction to isolated events, and aren’t as widely covered by the media as state issues.  All of this means sportsmen have fewer chances to know what is going on and are given less opportunity to provide input.

So what can you do to make sure your local officials don’t pass laws taking away your rights? Follow these tips:

  • Stay informed.  Make sure you are keeping an eye on what your local lawmakers are doing so you will know if they are considering something that might take away your rights.  This can be as easy as reading your local newspaper and/or attending a few city council or county commissioner meetings.
  • Educate local lawmakers like you would your state representatives.  Take some time to meet with your local lawmakers and get to know them.  Invite them to a club meeting, a club event, or a field trial.  Give them information on sporting dogs and let them know that dog related ordinances, even if well intended, could potentially hurt responsible dog owners like you.  If they know you as the knowledgeable “hunting dog guy” they are much more likely to turn to you when these issues arise.

Attacks on your rights as sportsmen and sporting dog owners can come from all levels – federal, state, and local.  Sportsmen must be ready to fight to keep those rights at all levels of government.

As always, if you are faced with the threat of your rights being taken away, USSA is here to help.

The Endangered Species Service? Obama Administration Deal Forces Questionable ESA Listings

By Bill Horn, Director of Federal Affairs

While debt ceiling talks and the stalled economy dominant Washington, D.C.,  the pot continues to boil  regarding hunting and fishing issues. The Obama Administration just cut a deal with the anti-hunting activists at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) on accelerated Endangered Species Act (ESA) listings.  Per the legal agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is required to consider adding 757 species, subspecies, or distinct population segments to the list of endangered or threatened species.  Decisions on all 757 must be rendered by October, 2016. The list includes species that are presently fished, hunted or trapped, including golden trout, cottontail rabbits, sage grouse, fisher, and wolverine.

Obligating FWS to engage in an unprecedented level of ESA listings will require millions of dollars and  eat up untold hours of agency personnel time.  Other key agency programs will suffer, including operation of the National Wildlife Refuge System (and hunting, fishing, and trapping which occurs on the majority of the 553 Refuge units), migratory bird management, and fisheries restoration.  USSA has always been a strong supporter of FWS and these vital conservation programs. As a former Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (overseeing FWS), I am deeply worried that the Obama-CBD deal converts FWS into the “Endangered Species Service.”

The timing on this deal looks like an effort to thwart Congressional efforts to rein in the ESA program.  The House of Representatives is about to pass the Interior Department funding bill (including FWS) which severely restricts new ESA listings.  The House wants the Service to use its finite money and personnel resources to focus on recovering already listed species rather than listing 757 more species (many of which are “endangered” only in the minds of anti-hunting activists).  What CBD, and its Administration pals, cannot get via Congress, they want to get via this court settlement.

Interior, and FWS, are also about to get a new Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks. President Obama recently nominated Rebecca Wodder to the post.  She had her first (of two) Senate confirmation hearings this week.  Wodder is a long time D.C. environmental activist who began her career in the late 1970’s as a staffer for Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D-WI) often considered the “father” of Earth Day. She later spent 15 years with The Wilderness Society (with whom USSA has long been fighting over wildlife management and hunting access issues) before becoming Executive Director of American Rivers in 1995. Wodder has not taken anti-hunting positions but has also not been a vocal supporter of the hunting community.  We expect her to take office in September.

Stay tuned and be prepared for what will no doubt be a large and contentious issue facing all sportsmen, sportswomen, and other conservationists.

Why Do The Dog Lovers Oppose House Bill 1451?

By Rob Sexton, Vice President For Government Affairs

When average sporting dog owners or hobby breeders hear of abuses that can occur in a substandard commercial breeding operation, they react with outrage.  They want to know what can be done to put a stop to abuses.  They are ready to sign on to the effort to help.

That is, until they find out that the supposed cure, House Bill 1451, may also treat them the same as the alleged target of the legislation, so called “puppy mills.”

They can’t believe that their own elected officials would want to pass a law that would drive many of them out of existence and open their houses up to searches without probable cause or even a search warrant.  They know they cannot afford costly and unnecessary upgrades to their kennels.  They are astounded that their fees will be more than $1,300 each.

But most of all they cannot believe that legislators haven’t written the bill in a fashion that excludes those who do not raise dogs primarily for the purpose of selling.

“Our members are very caring people dedicated to preserving our working Jack Russell terriers,” said Catherine Romaine Brown, Chairperson of the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America.  “Texas House Bill 1451 is unfair to these caring dog owners and could force many of them to give up raising and caring for these wonderful dogs.”

“None of us condone dog cruelty, and the United Kennel Club (UKC) supports sensible legislation that protects dogs,” said Sara Chisnell-Voigt, UKC legal counsel. “However, UKC cannot support laws that negatively affect responsible breeders and don’t serve to meet the objective of protecting dogs. HB 1451 is precisely that.”

“House Bill 1451 establishes unreasonable thresholds, will negatively impact responsible dog owners who are in compliance with current federal and state laws and will not improve animal welfare in Texas,” said American Kennel Club (AKC) Government Relations Director Sheila Goffe.

“Our members would be devastated if this bill were enacted into law,” said Mary Jo Trimble, Executive Secretary of the American Brittany Club.  “Our members breed high-quality championship Brittany’s not only for competition but for the sportsman as his hunting companion.  Yet HB 1451 will treat them with the same iron fist as a large substandard breeder kennel.”

These groups are just the tip of the iceberg of the list of dog organizations who are lining up to oppose House Bill 1451.  You can view the entire list of opponents at

That’s an awfully big list isn’t it?  You’d think that if the legislature was doing something so good for dogs that groups like these would be leading the charge to pass it, not trying to slow it down.  Well here’s why that’s not the case:

HB 1451 treats a dog owner as a commercial kennel if the owner has eleven un-spayed females and sells just two dogs.  Commercial kennels must then pay a fee that is expected to cost more than $1,300 per kennel.  They will be subject to many new regulations and requirements including kennel construction requirements created by an unelected commission which also has the authority to raise fees.

This commission is also given the invasive authority to search these dog owners’ residences if they keep as little as a single dog indoors or keep their dogs’ records on their home computer or in a file cabinet in their den.  Under HB 1451, they must open their residences to government inspections without notice, cause, or even a warrant.

Because these people don’t sell many dogs, they are convinced that the increases in costs and red tape will make it impossible for them to keep their kennels open.

And yet, their pleas fell on deaf ears in the Texas House of Representatives which passed the bill overwhelmingly and sent it to the Senate.  With just a few weeks left in the legislative session, sporting dog owners are worried that their objections will once again be ignored in the haste to simply pass something.

All they are asking is that their elected officials don’t throw the puppy out with the bathwater.  Senators, please don’t hurt law abiding kennel owners in the zeal to crack down on those few who do not share our passion for dogs.