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Texas Animal Adoption Bill Could Ruffle Pet Owners' Feathers

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Veronica Zaragovia

Between 20-30,000 animals go through Texas animal shelters each year. When someone adopts a pet, his or her contact information becomes public.

But that would change under a bill considered today by Texas House lawmakers. 

The bill, HB 2471, authored by State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, would make confidential any identifying information someone gives when adopting a pet at a municipal animal center.

Right now, Texas public information law requires city animal shelters to make details like names, addresses and phone numbers available to anyone who asks.

Some, like Abigail Smith, say that has consequences.

"One of my colleagues in another municipal shelter in the state actually had someone threaten to break into their home to steal their dog back," Smith said.

Smith directs the Austin Animal Center.  She says all of the dogs, cats…even gerbils and roosters passing through the Animal Center must stay there for 72 hours before they can be adopted. Smith says the center follows the law but welcomes every chance to open up a space for the next animal, which might ruffle the feathers of anyone who comes in to claim a pet after that period.

Barbara Wallace is searching for her white shepherd mix. She wants to know who has her dog, Duchess.

"Having a dog is like having a child. You bond with it and they’re part of the family," Wallace said. "If they wouldn’t let me have her back, I wouldn’t fight and argue about it. But they might see if she likes me more than them!"

Unlike municipal shelters, private animal rescue groups do not give out the personal information of people who adopt from them.