DOG AND CAT BREEDER BILL INTRODUCED
S.F. 462/H.F. 702
TAKE ACTION DAY – MARCH 1
SPEAK UP for Minnesota Dogs and Cats on Tuesday, March 1.
We have great news! The Dog and Cat Breeder Regulation bill has been introduced at the Minnesota State Legislature.
The bill number in the Minnesota Senate is S.F. 462, introduced by Senator Barb Goodwin. The bill number in the House of Representatives is H.F. 702, introduced by Representative John Lesch.
Now is the time to act. Your help is needed!
Join the Take Action Day on Tuesday, March 1
A statewide Take Action Day has been scheduled for this Tuesday, March 1, to educate Minnesota legislators about the need for regulation and inform them about S.F. 462/H.F. 702.
That means - on Tuesday, March 1 - we are asking Minnesotans from across the State to call, write or email your State Senator and State Representative and urge their support of this legislation.
Be sure to mention the bill numbers (S.F. 462/H.F. 702) and names of the chief authors (Senator Goodwin / Representative Lesch).
Please put March 1 on your calendar and be ready to call, write or email your legislators on that day. Plan to join the Take Action Day!
For ideas about what to say and for key highlights of the bills, see below.
WHAT TO DO AND WHAT TO SAY TO LEGISLATORS
Please contact YOUR State Senator and YOUR State Representative to urge their support of S.F. 462/H.F. 702, the Dog and Cat Breeder Regulation bill.
Here's how to call, write or email:
If you don't know who your State Senator and State Representative are or how to reach them, go to MN District Finder. Just type in your address and it will tell you your political district and state legislators and list their contact information - http://www.gis.leg.mn/OpenLayers/districts/
Call, write or email your State Senator. You can say, "As a constituent of yours (or Senator _________, if you reach an aide), I am contacting you (him/her) to urge support of the Dog and Cat Breeder Regulation Bill, Senate File 462. This bill is authored by Senator Barb Goodwin. It will regulate the dog and cat breeding industry in Minnesota and help prevent inhumane breeding practices and conditions. I would also appreciate it if you would sign onto the bill as a co-author. Thank you."
Also call, write or email your State Representative. You can say, "As a constituent of yours (or Representative _______________, if you reach an aide), I am contacting you (him/her) to urge support of the Dog and Cat Breeder Regulation Bill, House File 702. This bill is authored by Representative John Lesch. It will regulate the dog and cat breeding industry in Minnesota and help prevent inhumane breeding practices and conditions. I would also appreciate it if you would sign onto the bill as a co-author. Thank you."
NOTE: If you call your legislators, you will likely speak with an aide who will relay your message.
ALSO: As in past years, multiple breeder bills have been introduced this session. To be clear when speaking with legislators and/or their aides, be sure to mention the bill numbers (S.F. 462/H.F. 702) and author names (Sen. Goodwin/Rep. Lesch).
You may also wish to mention some of the points below.
THE NEED FOR BREEDER REGULATION
The problem is inhumane dog and cat breeding practices in Minnesota by unscrupulous or negligent breeders and a lack of oversight of this industry.
No State Laws
Minnesota has no state laws to license, inspect or regulate the dog and cat breeding industry.
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.
Substandard and Deplorable Conditions
While many breeders in Minnesota act responsibly, there are unscrupulous or negligent breeders who have created deplorable breeding conditions. Adult dogs and cats live their entire lives in small, overcrowded cages and are bred repeatedly. 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 of 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. The animals are rarely, if at all, provided human interaction or socialization, resulting in behavioral problems (including aggression and anxiety).
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 is time-consuming and costly for local law enforcement, animal control, animal welfare organizations and the courts. Regulation is a more efficient use of resources.
Breeder regulation will give 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 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
Additional highlights about the bill language are below.
The 2011 Dog and Cat Breeder Regulation bill (S.F. 462/H.F. 702) is supported by a large coalition of humane societies, rescue groups, animal control, veterinarians, animal protection and advocacy organizations, and citizens.
The Coalition introduced the first breeder bill five years ago, when the issue of inhumane dog and cat breeding practices was not known or understood at the Capitol. Over the years that the Coalition has been working on the bill, huge strides have been made in educating legislators and the public – much of it due to all of your help and commitment.
The Bill - Changes and Improvements
Much of the language in the 2011 Dog and Cat Breeder Regulation bill is from last year's bill; however, specific improvements have been made to reflect new research, information and input. Some of the improvements made this year are noted below.
Lower licensing number
A key aspect to a breeder bill is the licensing number - i.e., how is a "commercial breeder" defined and who is required to obtain a license to operate? The 2011 MN Dog and Cat Breeder Regulation bill will license and regulate dog/cat breeders defined as: “a person, other than a hobby breeder, 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”
NOTE: Last year, the breeder licensing number was raised to 20 breeding animals as a compromise. This session and with this bill, the licensing number was lowered to 10 (protecting more animals), a decision supported by legislators, law enforcement, rescue groups, humane societies, animal control, veterinarians and others.
Strengthen care standards based on scientific research/input
Considerable studies by respected veterinarians have been conducted in regards to dogs and cats in population settings and what is required to ensure the animals are healthy - physically and psychologically. The Coalition has incorporated some of this insight into the bill language, such as:
Veterinary plan - A provision was included in S.F. 462/H.F. 702 that requires breeders to have a veterinary care plan developed in conjunction with a licensed veterinarian. This not only helps the animals but it provides guidance and support for the breeders.
Animal well-being - S.F. 462/H. F. 702 contains language that requires adequate staff to observe each animal daily in order to monitor health, well-being and temperament.
Strengthen fiscal options
As with last year's bill, authority for inspections and enforcement has been directed to the Board of Animal Health (BAH). In order to best utilize the inspector’s time (and address breeders who are compliant), S.F. 462/H.F. 702 provides:
Inspections - allows every other year inspections if a breeder has had two consecutive years of inspections with no violations.
Reinspection fee - allows the BAH to charge a reinspection fee if they have to continue to return (multiple visits in one year) to a facility that is out of compliance with state law.
Please join the TAKE ACTION DAY on Tuesday, March 1!
Call your State Senator and State Representative and ask them to support S.F. 462/H.F. 702.
Thank you for your commitment to the animals and taking action!
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