Best Friends Animal Society Congratulates Texas Legislature on Passage of Pet-Inclusive Housing Bills, HB 1159 / SB 349

New Law Will End Breed Restrictions by Public Housing Authorities.
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Best Friends Animal Society, the leading national animal organization dedicated to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America's shelters by 2025, applauds the passage of HB 1159 / SB 349 to end dog breed restrictions by public housing authorities in Texas. Responsible pet owners should be allowed to have the dog of their choice regardless of their income or zip code. The bill passed the House today 142 to 4.

Sponsored by Rep. Anderson and Sen. Springer, and spearheaded by Best Friends Animal Society, HB 1159 / SB 349 will require housing authorities to comply with county and/or municipal restrictions on dangerous dogs in accordance with existing state law and prevent restrictions based on breed.

“This bill is another step to help prevent the unnecessary separation of a family in public housing from their beloved pet. I was proud to carry this legislation," Rep. Anderson said.

Texas Health and Safety Code Sec. 822.047 prohibits local governments from creating dangerous dog laws based on breed, yet Public Housing Authorities were still enforcing outdated breed-based restrictions. Breed-based restrictions are inaccurate, outdated, costly to enforce, and have been disproven in keeping a community safe.

The new law will allow beloved pets to stay with their families, and increase the number of homeless pets adopted from Texas shelters.

With housing barriers being the top reason why dogs are surrendered to shelters, laws like this one serve to keep more pets with their families. Responsible dog owners should not have to choose between housing or surrendering their pets to the shelter.

“Housing issues are one of the leading reasons we see owners relinquishing beloved pets, particularly large dogs that resemble commonly restricted breeds,” said MeLissa Webber, director of Dallas Animal Services. “Housing restrictions also reduce placement options for these dogs once they enter the shelter system, which has made them the most vulnerable pet population in North Texas. This bill is a critical step towards keeping pets and families together and combatting breed discrimination to ensure loving dogs are not judged based on their appearance.”

“Most Americans view their pets as members of the family, and arbitrary breed restrictions by Public Housing Authorities force families to choose between keeping their pets or keeping a roof over their heads,” said Laura Donahue, senior director - legislation and advocacy for Best Friends Animal Society. “We are facing a national housing shortage, which affects people with limited resources more acutely than others. Families should not have to choose between their beloved pet and a place to live.”

Texans decided long ago to stop local governments from restricting dog ownership based solely on breed, and Best Friends and animal advocates across the state celebrate that public housing authorities will now follow.

About Best Friends Animal Society

Best Friends Animal Society is a leading animal welfare organization working to end the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters by 2025. Founded in 1984, Best Friends is a pioneer in the no-kill movement and has helped reduce the number of animals killed in shelters from an estimated 17 million per year to around 355,000. Best Friends runs lifesaving programs across the country, as well as the nation’s largest no-kill animal sanctuary. Working collaboratively with a network of more than 4,200 animal welfare and shelter partners, and community members nationwide, Best Friends is working to Save Them All®. For more information, visit bestfriends.org