WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — A new state bill was passed today that prohibits the sale of commercially raised dogs and cats in pet stores.

Although the bill must also pass through the senate, officials say it’s one step closer to outlawing puppy mill cruelty.

“A lot of times they’ll have the cages set up in the back and you’ll never see them and they’ll bring out these cute little puppies and kittens that are all adorable. But what’s behind the scenes is horrific the living conditions of these animals,” Humane Society of Wichita County Executive Director Cheryl Miller said.

In Wichita County, many pets are adopted from the Humane Society. In some cases, pet seekers look for purebred dogs that Humane Society and other pet rescues may not have. That’s when they can run into potential puppy mills.

“We have a few puppy mills here in Wichita Falls and some of our surrounding areas. Especially, in some of the smaller counties,” Miller said.

While Wichita County does not have pet stores that sell pets, metropolitan areas like Frisco have stores like Petland that have faced citations for lack of proper veterinary care.

Stores like this inspired the Texas House to pass House Bill 1818 that would only allow pet stores to obtain a cat or dog from an animal shelter, rescue, control agency, or a licensed breeder.

“Petland is the only one of these stores that sort of refuses to give up this archaic business model. That is so cruel. It brings sick and injured, unvaccinated, not spayed and neutered puppies into our state,” Texas State Director of Humane Society of U.S. Lauren Loney said

Even though the bill passed 85-54, some representatives voiced their disapproval.

“What business is it of the State of Texas to tell people who are taking care of their dogs and ensuring that the dogs are healthy, that they can’t sell to the public in the manner that which they want to,” District 6 State Rep. Matt Schaefer said.

In the Wichita Falls code of ordinances, dogs and cats offered for sale in a pet store must be from an approved rescue or shelter.

As the bill makes its way to the state senate, Miller advises that pet seekers vet their breeders and report them if necessary.

“The best thing you can do is adopt from a local rescue but if you’re looking for a certain breed, you can go to a breed-specific rescue and we have those all over Texas,” Miller said.

Miller also advises asking to go to the back to see all the dogs that are being bred. And, if they won’t allow you to go to the back, it’s probably a puppy mill that needs to be reported.

To report illegal breeding, contact the Humane Society or Bailing Out Benji.