The 2014 Minnesota legislative session begins on February 25, and the dog and cat breeder regulation bill is expected to be considered by lawmakers during this session. The bill numbers are S.F. 36 and H.F. 84 (authored by Senator John Marty and Representative John Lesch, respectively). Your help is needed to get this legislation passed. Minnesota has no state laws to license, inspect or regulate commercial dog and cat breeders. That is why this legislation is so important.
A coalition of animal welfare organization, Speak Up for Minnesota Dogs and Cats, together with thousands of other Minnesotans, have been working hard to educate legislators and the public about this issue and the need for regulation.
Below is information to help understand the Dog and Cat Breeder Regulation bills – S.F. 36/H.F. 84.
There is no State law to license, inspect or regulate commercial dog and cat breeders in Minnesota.
The problem is inhumane breeding practices. Minnesota is among the top producers of puppies in the United States with some of the largest breeding kennels in the nation, some of them housing more than 1,000 dogs and puppies. Kittens are also mass-produced in Minnesota. Many dogs and cats live out their lives in small, overcrowded wire cages and are bred repeatedly. Their cages are often stacked, allowing feces and urine to fall onto the animals below. Animals may be malnourished from inadequate food and water, receive little or no veterinary care, are stressed from constant confinement and neglect, and have fleas and worms. Many have deformed paws, are severely matted, or are burned from sitting and standing in urine and feces. They are rarely, if at all, provided human socialization.
While many breeders in Minnesota act responsibly, there are those who keep dogs and cats in deplorable conditions and are willing to make a profit at the expense of the animal’s health and well-being. The puppies and kittens are sold to the public and many are sick, diseased, and have genetic problems.
USDA licensed - Only breeders who breed and deal puppies and kittens wholesale (e.g., pet shops, etc.) are licensed and inspected by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). USDA inspection reports of Minnesota breeders/dealers show multiple ongoing violations and enforcement is lacking.
Unlicensed - All breeders, including USDA licensed, can sell directly to the public, such as through websites, parking lots or newspaper ads - none of these activities are regulated.
The current system used in Minnesota to address animal neglect and cruelty is complaint-based: a person must see the inhumane conditions and report the cruelty or neglect to authorities. Law enforcement may then decide to investigate and pursue a case, and a prosecutor may choose to take the case.
Animal anti-cruelty laws kick in after the cruelty occurs -- if someone files a complaint and if action is taken. Regulation is preventative, allowing authorities to legally enter the property and inspect breeding facilities so conditions can be assessed and cruelty can be prevented before it occurs. Relying solely on reporting, cruelty investigations and prosecution are time-consuming and costly for local law enforcement, animal control, nonprofit animal shelters, rescue organizations, and the courts. Regulation is a more efficient use of resources.
Many breeders are not paying the required State sales tax on the puppies and kittens sold resulting in millions of dollars of lost revenue to the State.
Because our neighboring states (Wisconsin, Iowa and Nebraska) all having breeder regulation laws on the books, Minnesota could become a “safe haven” for inhumane breeders.
S.F. 36 and H.F. 84 address the problem by giving the State of Minnesota the authority to:
S.F. 36 and H.F. 84 address the core problem, work hand-in-hand with existing Minnesota anti-cruelty laws, and have strong support by a large coalition of humane societies, rescue groups, animal control, humane agents, veterinarians, and citizens from across the State. The goal of breeder regulation is healthy and safe dogs and cats.
Please contact your own State Senator and Representative and ask them to support S.F. 36 (authored by Senator Marty) and H.F. 84 (authored by Representative Lesch) and educate them on what goes on in Minnesota dog and cat breeding facilities. Getting to know your own legislators is important; relationships are key to winning trust and votes. When speaking with your legislators, be sure to always mention these bill numbers and the authors’ names because conflicting bills could be introduced during the session.
To learn more about dog and cat breeding in Minnesota, sign a petition, and more, please visit www.animalfolksmn.org.
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VISION: To compassionately and responsibly create a more humane world for animals.
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