Texas bill, SB 958, was originally introduced to amend the state Dangerous Wild Animal Act, Tex. Health & Safety Code § 822.102 et seq., to allow an exemption for legitimate sanctuaries. The Act basically requires a certificate of registration for anyone who wants to own or harbor, or have custory or control of, a "dangerous wild animal". The bill proposes to expand the exemptions under the Act.
As Texas Humane Legislative Network explains, "The [original] proposed amendment [would exempt ‘wildlife sanctuaries’ that were] carefully defined … to include only publicly supported charities that provide care for sick and abandoned wild animals and who do not breed animals or conduct any commercial activity with respect to the animals in their custody. They also have to be verified or accredited by an international sanctuary accreditation organization known as Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS). This accrediting organization is approved and recommended by virtually all national and international animal welfare groups including HSUS and BornFree."
The bill as originally drafted passed the state senate.
But the House of Representatives Culture, Recreation & Tourism Committee amended the bill "to exempt any organization (this includes a "roadside zoo") which is a member of the Zoological Association of America (ZAA) which is little more than a front organization for roadside zoos and individual collectors of dangerous wild animals."
State law already exempts zoos and other organizations that are accredited members of the Association Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). AZA is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1924 and dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science and recreation.
WHAT THE AMENDMENT MEANS
Allowing an exemption for organizations that are members of the Zoological Association of America will effectively "gut" the Dangerous Wild Animal Act and will allow virtually anyone to join the ZAA and claim exemption. "[I]t will open the door for numerous other so-called accreditations organizations to spring up and ask that their membership be exempt. Once this happens there will be no effective regulation of dangerous wild animals in Texas."
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Action Needed Today!
SB 958 is set for a floor vote in the House of Representatives on Saturday, May 21 and we must request support for a floor amendment to remove the ZAA exemption language.
Please contact your Texas state representative immediately and ask him or her to support an amendment to SB 958 to remove the exemption for organizations accredited by the ZAA. Time is of the essence, so please act NOW!
This is a vitally important issue because it will render the Dangerous Wild Animal Act, which has protected wild animals in this state for ten years, ineffective and unenforceable. Please act today and ask your friends to do so as well.
As always be polite and courteous when communicating with Representatives and their staff.
After making your phone call, please submit a follow-up email message. Please see sample below.
Email Subject Line: SB 958 Please support a floor amendment to remove ZAA exemption
Dear Representative (last name),
As your constituent, I urge you to support a floor amendment to remove the ZAA exemption language from SB 958. Leaving the ZAA exemption in the bill will render the Dangerous Wild Animal Act ineffective and unenforceable.
(please personalize your message)