February 20, 2012

Hundreds of Minnesotans braved sub-zero temperatures Tuesday to voice their support for dog and cat breeder regulation at a rally at the State Capitol Rotunda in St. Paul. The audience chanted and waved signs in favor of the breeder bills (H.F. 84 and S.F. 86) being considered by the Minnesota Legislature.

The event opened with a surprise appearance by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, who acknowledged that while many breeders have the best interest of animals at heart, there are those who do not.

"I see these pictures. It’s just horrific,” the governor said. “It’s just repulsive. And to think that’s going on right here in Minnesota, and nobody’s doing anything about it? It’s so un-Minnesotan.”

"I want to send a clear message," he said. "There’s no place for that in Minnesota. We’re not going to stand idly by while innocent animals are being tortured."

Speakers at the rally included Janelle Dixon, President and CEO of Animal Humane Society.

"This bill is critical to the health and welfare of the animals in this state," Dixon said. AHS takes in a significant number of animals each year that have been bred in inhumane conditions, she said, and "these are animals that are ill, they have serious health problems, and they have serious behavior and socialization issues. They don’t receive or feel the touch of an individual human being while they are in this care -- and we need to stop it."

The rally was organized by a coalition of animal welfare organizations called Speak Up for Dogs and Cats that has been working to educate legislators and the public about the issue and the need for regulation. More information about the organization and the legislative effort can be found at www.SpeakUpMN.org.

The House version of the bill has been approved by the House's Civil Law Committee, and will be heard by the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee at 10 a.m. Thursday (February 21) in Room 10 of the State Office Building in St. Paul.