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The Humane Society Legislative Fund and Texas Humane Legislation Network Release Texas State Humane Scorecard

Scorecard evaluates elected officials on work for animals for the 2011 state legislative session

AUSTIN (Jan. 20, 2012) -- The Humane Society Legislative Fund and the Texas Humane Legislation Network is releasing its Texas State Humane Scorecard for the 2011 state legislative session today. The scorecard provides a snapshot of Texas state lawmakers’ records on animal welfare policies. Lawmakers are scored on floor votes on bills addressing such issues as puppy mills, cockfighting, pets in protective orders, aerial gunning of coyotes and feral hogs, and roadside sale of animals.

"The Texas State Humane Scorecard provides an easy way for constituents to assess how their lawmakers acted on animal protection issues, and it helps chart the progress of our public policy work on behalf of animals in the state," said Sara Amundson, executive director of The Humane Society Legislative Fund. "In 2011, Texas lawmakers passed bills to upgrade the state’s anti-cockfighting law and to pass humane breeding standards for dogs and cats. The anti-cruelty laws of a state are a reflection of our basic values and attitudes toward animals, and this collection of bills is a measurable step forward for the state of Texas."

Cile Holloway, president of the Texas Humane Legislation Network, said, “This was a banner year for animals in Texas. It was one of the best sessions for animals ever, demonstrating that this cause is emerging as an important issue for Texas lawmakers.”

The Humane Society Legislative Fund and Texas Humane Legislation  Network tracked nine bills during the session: HB 716, which allows the aerial gunning of feral hogs and coyotes by landowners; HB 963, which ensures that animals seized from persons charged with animal cruelty are not held in shelters for a prolonged period pending appeals for reimbursement; HB 1043, which prohibits a person from attending a cockfight, owning or training a rooster to fight, owning or selling the knives, gaffs or other weapons used in the fight, and allowing one’s property to be used in a fight; HB 1103, which allows a judge to order a person convicted of animal cruelty to attend a responsible pet owner course; HB 1451, which requires licensing and inspection of dog and cat breeders and sets minimum care standards; HB 1768, which allows certain counties to adopt ordinances to regulate the sale of animals (other than farm animals); HB 2471, which limits civil liability of a person who renders aid to an injured or distressed animal from civil action; SB 279, which requires the inclusion of companion animals in protective orders; and SB 1301, which requires manufacturers of antifreeze and engine coolant to add a bittering agent to the product to render it unpalatable to both children and animals.

Seven of the nine bills (HB 716, HB 963, HB 1043, HB 1103, HB 1451, HB 2471, and SB 279) were signed into law in 2011. With the passage of these laws, Texas is now ranked No. 25 out of 51 on The Humane Society of the United States’ “Humane State Ranking” of animal protection laws, a huge jump from last year when it was ranked 36.

Highlights from the 2011 Texas Humane Scorecard include:

  • Of the 181 members of the legislature scored, 19 received perfect 100 percent scores--indicating a vote in support of animal protection for all nine scored bills (five senators and 14 representatives).
  • Three members received more than 100 percent, reflecting their support of animal protection in all nine bills, as well as primary leadership on at least one of the scored bills. These members are: Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, Reps. Eddie Lucio III, D-San Benito, and Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin.
  • The average score for the representatives was 79 and the average score for the senators was 84.
  • No senator scored less than 51 percent and seven representatives scored less than 51 percent.

The Texas State Humane Scorecard is available online at hslf.org/humanescorecard.

Media contacts: Pepper Van Tassell (HSLF), (240) 751-0232, pvantassell@hslf.org

Cile Holloway (THLN), (214) 537-3531, cile@thln.org

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The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a separate lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. The HSLF works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues, and to support humane candidates for office. Visit us on all our channels: on the web at hslf.org, on our blog at animalsandpolitics.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/humanelegislation and on Twitter at twitter.com/HSLegFund.