We all love our pets. Those furry, four legged family members that we can't imagine life without. But how much do you know about where yours came from?

A bill passed by the the House would make it illegal for pet stores in counties of 200,000 or more to sell cats or dogs that did not come to them through animal shelters, pet rescue organizations, control agencies, or licensed breeders. The bill, HB 1818, passed in the House by a vote of 85 to 54 and must still pass in the Senate to take effect. As you can see by the vote tally, there are those who are opposed to this bill thinking that the Texas government shouldn't be meddling in what product a business should or should not stock in their stores.

The motivation for the bill is to stop the operation of puppy mills in Texas by taking away their ability to make money through supplying major pet stores. While many breeders are very conscientious about caring for their animals properly, some puppy mills keep their animals in deplorable conditions and simply generate litter after litter with little to no concern about the animals. Those are the operations we all want to go away.

According to a story on Texoma's Homepage, Wichita County is not immune to that kind of operation and we do see them pop up on the news from time to time when they get caught.

While this bill would prohibit major pet retailers from doing business with puppy mills it would not put the mills out of existence directly. In fact it would still be possible for you to go directly to a mill without realizing it. One of the things you want to see when you're checking out a source is access to the entire facility. If they only let you see the front office but won't allow you to tour the rest of the operation it's a huge red flag that something is amiss. In that case you might do better to move on down the road.

If you must have a pure breed pet, there are usually several local owners that occasionally have puppies for sale. There are also breed specific rescues in many areas. Organizations like the Texas Pit Crew in Wichita Falls will help any breed of dog, but specialize in pit bulls and educating people on the breed.

If you're not particular about the breed, but want a puppy or kitten the local animal shelter is always a great option. They check their animals over and make sure they've had their shots before they're put up for adoption and you know you'll be rescuing it from a much more difficult life. Once you've earned the trust of an animal that's been treated badly before, they'll love you unconditionally. The Wichita Falls Animal Services Center  and the Wichita County Humane Society always have several available and will help you match the pet to your family and activity level.

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