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May 24, 2014

The first half of the two-year state legislative session in Minnesota ended this week, with the second half scheduled to begin on February 25, 2014. The breeder bills that animal welfare advocates worked so hard to support are still alive and will continue where they left off in both bodies; they don’t have to be heard again in the committees they already passed. The bills are awaiting hearings in the policy committees in both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees. 

As reported here previously, the dog and cat breeder regulation bill progressed further this year than ever before, and we are confident hearings will be held in the necessary House and Senate Committees in 2014. 

Over the past few weeks, Rep. John Lesch (author of H.F. 84) held lengthy meetings with representatives of the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association, the pet breeders, the Board of Animal Health, and members of the Speak Up for Minnesota Dogs and Cats coalition (of which Animal Humane Society is a part) to try to reach consensus on language in H.F. 84. These meetings were very productive. With some new language that came out of the meetings, Rep. Lesch believes this will put the bill in a better position to receive and pass necessary committees in 2014.

A lot was accomplished during the session:

  • H.F. 84 passed three committees in the House without any harmful amendments being added.
  • The Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association offered additional language to H.F. 84’s veterinary program provision. The new language requires breeders to establish and maintain a written protocol for disease control and prevention, euthanasia, and veterinary care of animals.
  • Governor Mark Dayton publicly supports the bill.
  • The Board of Animal Health supports the House amended bill.
  • Legislators were inundated with calls - hearing from Minnesotans who want the suffering of dogs and cats in inhumane breeding facilities to end.
  • The lobbying team met multiple times with members of all the necessary committees, confirming “yes” votes and changing some “no” votes into “yes.”
  • More than 50 Minnesota shelters and rescues, the Minnesota Animal Control Association and thousands of Minnesotans support S.F. 36/H.F. 84.
  • More than 380 Minnesota veterinarians and vet techs signed letters supporting S.F. 36/H.F. 84 with more signing on regularly.
  • More than 19,000 petitions signed by Minnesotans were delivered to State legislators in support of S.F. 36/H.F. 84.

Opposition

We are still hearing from opposition:

  • Slippery slope argument - that if regulation passes, next year it will go into the barns and farms (this fear-based argument is still being used by certain legislators connected with agribusiness).
  • Some breeders say it will put them out of business (this will not happen if a breeder is properly caring for his/her dogs and cats).
  • Already have laws on the books (not true - animal anti-cruelty laws kick in after the cruelty has occurred; local ordinances are inconsistent or do not exist).
  • Don’t need more government (government is already involved; law enforcement and the courts must pay the costs of cleaning up the problem if the cruelty is reported).

What You Can Do

We need to continue to build momentum and secure votes in preparation for 2014. Coalition members will be working hard over the interim and we hope you will too. Here is how you can help:

Contact your legislators— Please continue talking with your own State Senator and Representative asking for their strong support of S.F. 36/H.F. 84. It is important that you get to know your own legislators and meet with them. (Be sure to always state the bill numbers and mention they are the bills authored by Sen. Marty and Rep. Lesch because conflicting bills have been introduced.) 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/

Educate - Inform others about this issue and tell them how they can help. Distribute flyers. Write letters to the editor.
Involve your veterinarian– If your vet and the vet techs want to support this effort, please have them sign the petition at http://www.animalfolksmn.org/sign-petition.html.

Local Events - Another way to get the word out is by attending local county events and handing out literature about S.F. 36/H.F. 84.  Click on this link to find out where the county fairs and events are in your area this coming summer; just enter the location, date, etc. in the search box: http://www.exploreminnesota.com/events/index.aspx

 

Miscellaneous Bills Introduced in 2013

S.F. 1164/H.F. 1370 (Sen. Dibble/Rep. Lesch) – Dogs and Cats in Research. This bill requires any search institution that receives state support to offer dogs and cats that are being used for testing purposes (whose research does not require them to be destroyed after the testing) be offered for adoption through an animal rescue organization.

Status: S.F. 1164 passed Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Comm and was held over for possible inclusion in the Omnibus Higher Ed Appropriations bill – it did not make it into that final bill; H.F. 1370 has not been heard.

 S.F. 452/H.F. 456 (Sen. Wiger/Rep. J.E. Ward) – Restrictions on the Use of Body-Gripping Traps Modified. This bill includes restrictions on the use of body-gripping traps in order to keep dogs safe.

Status:  No hearings were held.

S.F. 666 (and S.F. 815)/ H.F. 1163 (Sens. Eaton, Wiger/Rep. Isaacson) - Wolf Hunting Five-Year Moratorium Reinstated.  This bill reinstates the five-year waiting period and authorizes an open wolf season only for population mgmt and only once other means of population control have been explored; it also requires opportunity for public comment.

Status:  S.F. 666 passed Senate Environment and Energy Comm and is awaiting a hearing in Environment, Economic Development and Ag Finance Division. H.F. 1163 has not been heard.

 

Talking Points on S.F. 36/H.F. 84 – Dog and Cat Breeder Regulation Bill

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. 
  • 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 wellbeing. 
  • The puppies and kittens are sold to the public and many are sick, diseased, and have genetic problems. 

The Solution

S.F. 36/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.
  • Penalties - Impose civil, administrative and criminal penalties for those who violate the law.

For more information, go to www.animalfolksmn.org or  www.SpeakUpMN.org

Speak Up for Minnesota Dogs and Cats

Coalition members include A Rotta Love Plus, Animal Folks MN, Animal Humane Society, Minnesota Animal Control Association, Minnesota Humane Society, Minnesota Voters for Animal Protection, Minnkota Persian Rescue, Pause 4 Paws, Pet Haven Inc. of Minnesota, Retrieve A Golden of Minnesota, Second Chance Animal Rescue, and Tri-County Humane Society. These legislative efforts are also supported by numerous other organizations and individuals, including veterinarians, law enforcement, prosecutors, humane agents, animal control, rescue groups, animal shelters, breeders, businesses, and countless citizens throughout Minnesota.

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Woodbury, MN 55125
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