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Law of the Paw

Law of the Paw

Think of it as the golden rule for animals. It's a promise to be as good to your pets as they are to you. Raise your paw and stand up for the animals you love. When you commit to live by the Law of the Paw you’re not only helping your pet—you’re helping thousands of other animals by reducing homelessness and saving lives.

Do these three simple things for your animal, and you’ll help create a better world for all animals. And you and your pet will sleep better knowing the good deed you have done.

  1. Adopt from a shelter or rescue.
  2. Spay or neuter your pet.
  3. ID your pet with a collar tag.


Here’s a surprising fact: Only 10%-20% of American family pets come from rescues or shelters. This leaves far too many dogs and cats behind. Every year, millions of animals are euthanized simply because there’s nobody stepping up to adopt them.

We can do way better than that, right? There are tons of reasons to adopt from a shelter or rescue, for example:

  • You’ll save a life. How great is that?
  • You’ll save money. Adoption fees are a fraction of what you’d pay to purchase a pet from a breeder. Plus, most animals adopted from a shelter or rescue are already spayed/neutered and up to date on their shots—a significant savings in vet fees.
  • About 25% of dogs in shelters are purebreds. So chances are, you can save a life by adopting and still find the breed you’re looking for.
  • And if a purebred dog isn’t important to you, then you’ll really hit the jackpot at your local shelter. Mixed-breed dogs make wonderful pets, and they’re usually healthier than purebreds.


What’s the best way to reduce euthanasia in America’s shelters? Cut down on unwanted litters by spaying or neutering your pet.

By nature, dogs and cats are bountiful breeders. Dogs can have their first litter at six months—cats at four months. That’s just the beginning. After that, dogs can produce a litter every six months. Cats continue to go in and out of heat from March until May.

Imagine one pair of animals breeding together, and then all of their offspring having litters of their own. Just one dog and its descendants can pop out more than 67,000 puppies in six years! Cats can have even more. One pair of cats can lead to 11 million homeless cats in just nine years. That’s out of control. And we humans are the only ones that can break the cycle by making sure every pet we have undergoes a simple, routine surgery.

The downside of spay/neuter? Nothing. Male animals are no less “manly,” and female animals won’t miss being a mama. Really. Pets don’t think about sex and babies the way we do. In fact, spaying and neutering often results in a healthier, happier, better behaved pet. He’ll be less likely to roam and mark his territory. And she’ll be more comfortable not being stressed out by going into heat.

Best of all, if everyone spayed or neutered their pet, we could save the lives of 4 million animals every year—dogs and cats who would otherwise be euthanized in overcrowded shelters.

That’s a big victory for such a little snip.


Venture into your local shelter and read the kennel cards. How many dogs and cats were picked up as strays? Usually it’s about half. In some states, strays can account for as many as 75% of the animals in shelters.

A “stray” is someone’s pet that can’t be returned home, because there’s no way for the shelter to know who it belongs to. Swept up into the shelter system through no fault of their own, these dogs and cats may be adopted to other families-*or they may become some of the millions of animals euthanized by overcrowded shelters. So here’s a thought. If every dog and cat wore an ID tag with the owner’s current contact information, we could cut the number of animals in shelters by half.

But even more importantly, ID tagging helps keep your furry family members safe. Only 10% of lost dogs return home on their own. For stray cats in shelters, the chances of being reunited with their family are a bleak 2%.

And yes, cats need to wear ID tags, too, even cats that “never” go outside. Research shows that 41% of lost cats were indoor only pets. But accidents happen. You can’t predict when a cat might shoot out the door, so always be ready for the worst.

Microchipping? That’s a great backup plan. Even if your dog or cat loses its collar, with your current contact information registered with the microchip company, it can be returned home quickly. But since most neighbors and Good Samaritans aren’t walking around with a microchip scanner, your pets should still wear ID tags so they can be returned home without setting paw inside a vet’s office or shelter.


Status of pending animal welfare legislation

Status of pending animal welfare legislation

No animal welfare legislation is currently under consideration in the 2015 Minnesota Legislative Session.

Advocacy and rescue

Advocacy and rescue

Animal Advocates

The Animal Advocates network is a group of people committed to making a difference in the lives of animals in our communities. Together, they contact their state senators and representatives to support legislation that will keep animals safe.

Animal welfare partners

Animal welfare partners

Animal Humane Society is supportive of a respectful and collaborative environment that encourages varying viewpoints and approaches to solving problems in animal welfare. Working cooperatively with many animal welfare groups, regardless of philosophy, we have set our sights on a future where every adoptable animal is given a life-long home.

If you are an animal agency interested in being an animal welfare partner with Animal Humane Society, please submit an application.

Local animal rescue organizations

Animal Humane Society works the most with the following organizations to ensure care and placement of animals not adoptable through its adoption centers. All Minnesota organizations unless otherwise noted.

Companion animal organizations

Wildlife, exotic or other domestic animal organizations

Veterinary partners

Animal Humane Society is grateful to have the support of the following veterinary practices, who donate their services to help us care for special medical cases. Thank you for partnering with us to better serve the medical needs of the animals in our care.

Statewide initiatives and partners

Minnesota Alliance for Family and Animal Safety

The Minnesota Alliance for Family and Animal Safety is a diverse group of professionals and community members dedicated to working across organizations, communities and disciplines to bring an end to human-animal violence.

Minnesota Partnership for Animal Welfare

Animal Humane Society's vision is to compassionately and responsibly create a more humane world for animals. As a founding member of the Minnesota Partnership for Animal Welfare (MnPAW), we are proud to work together with nine other animal welfare groups across Minnesota to ensure a home for every healthy and treatable companion animal in the state.

Minnesota Horse Welfare Coalition

Since 2005, Animal Humane Society’s Humane Investigations team has seen a 50% increase in cases affecting horses. In response, we initiated the Minnesota Horse Welfare Coalition (MNHWC), a group of organizations, horse rescues, humane agents and individuals working to prevent horse neglect, abandonment and abuse.

National initiatives and partners

National Federation of Humane Societies

National Federation of Humane Societies is a trade federation dedicated to representing and advocating for the interests of local animal welfare organizations, animal shelters, rescue groups and animal care and control agencies.

Pet Shelters Across America

Pet Shelters Across America is consortium of the leading animal welfare organizations in the United States. PSAA is an umbrella organization representing 35 animal shelters that raise funds for local shelters. All of the members are welfare organizations that are independent, stand-alone entities that do not report to national humane organizations or receive funding or management from any national groups. Visit

Shelter Animals Count

Shelter Animals Count is a new, collaborative initiative formed by a diverse group of stakeholders to create and share a national database of sheltered animal statistics, providing facts, and enabling insights that will save lives.

Animal Advocates

Animal Advocates

“Everyone together, creating one loud voice, really does make a difference.”

— Animal Advocates member

Animal Humane Society's Animal Advocates are a network of people who care, a group committed to making a difference in the lives of animals in our communities.

Advocates play a critical role in AHS’s efforts, including contacting elected representatives to support legislation that will keep animals safe.

Lend your voice to the effort by joining Animal Advocates today. It’s simple to do using this online form. We’ll send you regular AHS Action Alerts so you’ll always have the latest news and information about issues that impact companion animals in the state of Minnesota. We’ll also let you know how you can advocate on behalf of the animals that need our help.

Thank you for helping the animals that depend on us to be their voice. 

Cruelty prevention resources

Cruelty prevention resources

Preventing animal cruelty is in all of our best interests. Studies have shown that cruelty to animals is a sign that other abuse is taking place in the home. Those same studies show that children who witness animal abuse are at a greater risk of becoming animal abusers themselves.

At Animal Humane Society, we’re committed to breaking this cycle through education and prevention.

Preventing animal cruelty is no easy task, but together we can make great strides. You can contribute by understanding the signs of animal cruelty, knowing animal welfare law, and advocating for the rights of animals.

For more information, please read about The Link® between animal cruelty and human violence.

Current Animal Welfare Laws

Current animal welfare laws

Federal law

Animal Welfare Act (AWA)

The Animal Welfare Act is a federal law that governs the transportation, sale and handling of certain animals. More specifically, it ensures that animals are provided with humane care and treatment during transportation, purchase, sale, housing, care, and handling by persons or organizations using them for research or exhibition purposes or as pets.

Reporting animal cruelty

Reporting animal cruelty

We need your help to keep the animals in our communities safe. Contact our Humane Investigations team if you are concerned about the welfare of an animal.

Humane Investigations

Humane Investigations

Animal Humane Society’s Humane Investigations team is committed to seeking justice for animals throughout Minnesota by investigating reports of animal abuse and neglect, collaborating with law enforcement on cases related to animals and animal welfare statutes, and providing training and workshops for agencies, institutions, and community organizations.

Our two humane agents, the only full-time professional humane investigators in the state, received 2,317 reports of neglected or abused animals in 2013. Working in 66 counties with local law enforcement officials, our efforts in humane investigations helped 6,376 animals.

Investigating reports of animal abuse and neglect

Most of the cases reported to our agents involve lack of food, water, shelter and general animal husbandry. Larger, more complex cases  can result on-site investigations, animal seizure, and prosecuting offenders.

Issues our humane agents investigate include:

  • Domestic animals and livestock lacking necessary food, water or shelter as required by law
  • Animal fighting and hoarding
  • Physical abuse or chronic neglect of animals
  • Denial of necessary medical attention to animals who are sick or injured
  • Illegal shooting, trapping, abandonment, poisoning, or torture of any domestic animal
  • Potential injury from tangled leashes, ropes or chains
  • Animals left in unattended vehicles and subject to conditions that would or could adversely affect the animal’s health or welfare
  • Pet stores, petting zoos, boarding kennels, dog kennels, horse stables, and other facilities that are not meeting the minimum standards of care as required by law

Collaborating with law enforcement

As the only full-time professional humane investigations team in the state of Minnesota, we’re often contacted to assist law enforcement with cases related to or involving animals. When called upon, our veterinary and animal care staff can provide:

  • Equipment and personnel to assist with animal seizure
  • Medical examinations of involved animals
  • Transportation and shelter for large numbers of animals taken into custody
  • Technical consultation during investigations involving animal cruelty allegations

Training and workshops

In addition to investigations, our agents conduct training presentations and workshops for law enforcement agencies, academic institutions, community associations and other members of the animal welfare industry.

Contact us for help

Our seasoned humane agents bring more than 40 years of combined experience to investigations throughout the state of Minnesota.

Individuals and law enforcement agencies may contact a humane agent directly to request assistance. Citizen reports of abuse and neglect are kept confidential. However, in more complex cases, we must have sufficient evidence or a cooperative witness to successfully build a case for seizures and criminal prosecution.

Keith StreffHumane Agent Keith Streff
Office: (763) 489-2236
Mobile: (612) 747-4168

Wade HansonHumane Agent Wade Hanson
Office: (763) 489-1570
Mobile: (651) 226-5235

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