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Speak Up for Dogs and Cats

The 2013 Minnesota legislative session began on January 8, and the Dog and Cat Breeder Regulation bill has been introduced. 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 the dog and cat breeding industry. That is why this legislation is so important.

A Coalition (Speak Up for 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.

The Problem

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 - housing 300, 600 or over 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, have fleas, worms, etc. Many have deformed paws, are severely matted, or are burned from sitting and standing in urine and feces. And, 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. 

Licensed and Unlicensed

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 MN 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.

Current System is Not Working

The current system used in Minnesota to address animal neglect and cruelty is complaint-based - i.e., 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.

Sales Tax

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.

Neighboring States

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.

The Solution

S.F. 36 and H.F. 84 address theproblem by giving the State of Minnesota the authority to:

  • License - Require commercial dog and cat breeders in Minnesota to be licensed;
  • Inspect and Enforce - Give legal authority to the MN Board of Animal Health to inspect commercial dog and cat breeding facilities and enforce existing State laws to ensure animal care standards are met; and
  • Penalties - Impose civil, administrative and criminal penalties for those who violate the law.

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.

TAKE ACTION

Please contact your own State Senator and Representative now 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 may be introduced this session.

If you don’t know who your State Senator and Representative are (or your district), you can find that information at:  http://www.gis.leg.mn/OpenLayers/districts/.

To learn more about dog and cat breeding in Minnesota, sign a petition, and more, please visit www.animalfolksmn.org.