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. That includes dealers who sell animals to laboratories, animal exhibitors, carriers, and intermediate handlers, dog and cat breeders, puppy mills, zoos, circuses, roadside menageries, and transporters of animals. It excludes retail pet stores, state and county fairs, livestock shows, rodeos, purebred dog and cat shows, and fairs or exhibitions intended to advance agricultural arts and sciences.
The organization charged with enforcing the AWA is the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), a division of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
A person or organization found in violation of the AWA may face fines and/or imprisonment.
Minnesota state laws relevant to animals
The following links will provide you with information on animal welfare related laws, statutes and codes. After review, if your question remains unanswered, please contact our Humane Investigations team.
Dog and cat breeder bill
New state regulations to protect the health and safety of dogs and cats took effect on Tuesday, July 1, 2014. During the 2014 Legislative Session, Governor Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature enacted the new law, creating licensing and inspection requirements for commercial dog and cat breeders. The purpose of the law is to protect and enhance the well-being of dogs and cats that are raised by commercial breeders in Minnesota.
A commercial breeder is defined in the law as a person who possesses or has an ownership interest in animals and is engaged in the business of breeding animals for sale or for exchange in return for consideration, and who possesses ten or more adult intact animals and whose animals produce more than five total litters of puppies or kittens per year.
The law includes requirements on record keeping and facility maintenance, standards of care and an annual licensing fee. Between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015, commercial dog or cat breeders must register with the Board of Animal Health each facility they own or operate in Minnesota. During this time, licensing is optional.
Beginning July 1, 2015, licensure becomes mandatory and a commercial dog or cat breeder must obtain an annual license for each facility in Minnesota. The commercial dog and cat breeder initiative will help to showcase facilities that are already doing an excellent job of caring for their animals. Additionally, it will allow the Board of Animal Health to work with breeders to help them meet the requirements detailed in the new law.
The Board offers several tools to guide commercial breeders through the new requirements and become licensed. Visit the Board's website to read more about the program and to download a registration form.
Local ordinances and licensing requirements
Animal licenses and ordinances are established to protect both people and animals in your community. Requirements for keeping a companion animal differ among the various cities. Contact your local animal control or law enforcement offices to determine the guidelines that have been set for your community.