Monday, February 28, 2011

Competing Puppy Mill bills in MN

This news is so disappointing. Looks like the two largest animal rescues in Minnesota have drawn a line in the sand yet again: Animal Ark is supporting one bill and AHS (Animal Humane Society) is supporting the other.

Can't animal rescue groups work together even for such an obvious common goal as eliminating animal cruelty in puppy mill breeding operations??

Who Is Behind Efforts to Kill Minnesota’s Puppy Mill Bill?
Posted by Mike Fry on February 27, 2011 at 11:30pm

Those who work on legislative efforts nationally and locally know that one of the most effective ways to kill a bill is to offer a competing alternative, thereby splitting the supporters of the cause, and giving opponents a rational excuse to vote down both bills. This is especially true if there is broad support for the original piece of proposed legislation.

This fact combined with news of competing bills to House File 388 and Senate File 384 being introduced in the Minnesota Legislature have left many people wondering, “who is trying to kill Minnesota’s puppy mill bill?”

The potential answers to that question get stranger if people look deeper into who is supporting the new competing legislation. It is a story that uncovers what could be either deliberate sabotage or incompetence within the animal welfare community.

The story begins a few years ago, when differing factions within the Minnesota animal welfare community were working on different approaches to regulating large-scale breeding operations in the state. One faction had been working for many years on one approach that had little support at the legislature and no support at all from those outside the animal welfare community. They had introduced bills repeatedly with absolutely no success at all.

Animal Ark had supported past efforts, but we realized a different approach needed to be taken. We began seeking input from other organizations, including small, responsible breeders, like the Minnesota Purebred Dog Breeder’s Association, sheriffs and veterinarians. The result was an interesting and widely supported new approach. It resulted in new language with broad support. But, a few animal welfare advocates clung to the old model.

When the Minnesota Legislature was approached with this new language, we were given a clear directive: get together with the animal welfare advocates working on other approaches, get on the same page, and deliver to the legislature a viable, single “compromise” bill. We did just that.

The process of getting agreement was fairly long, and somewhat painful for all parties involved. But we all together and succeeded.

The amended House File 253 in 2010 was the result of that challenging work. The new language was strong, tight and was supported by a remarkably broad spectrum of supporters. Organizations that testified in support of this new language last year included Animal Ark, Second Chance Animal Rescue, RAGOM, the Animal Humane Society, the Minnesota Purebred Dog Breeder’s Association, veterinarians and others.

Beyond that, the Board of Animal Health had produced a fiscal note that was very favorable to the language. The language got traction and quickly passed a couple of committees in the House. This was more success than any of its predecessors had ever seen.

In the end, after some dramatic twists and turns, an amendment version of House File 253 came within a handful of votes of passing in the House, thanks to the leadership of Representative John Benson, and others.

Believing in the language and the importance of collaboration, Representative Benson held a series of meetings with the small group of opponents to House File 253 over the interim. At these meetings, he asked for constructive input that would improve the language. None was offered.

As a result, he introduced House File 388 this year, identical language to the “compromise” language that was House File 253 in 2010. Immediately, a group of respected legislators signed on as co-authors. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate (Senate File 384) and immediately gained more sponsors.

Then, more momentum got going. A new Facebook page in support of the bills surged. A grass-roots effort of letter writing resulted in news coverage, letters to the editor and petitions being spread around the Internet. House File 388 and Senate File 384 were off to a strong start.

Then, something happened…

A little known web site ( announced competing bills. (The House version of this competing set of bills, it is worth noting, was authored by Representative John Lesch, the same representative that tried for several years to ban a variety of dog breeds throughout the state of Minnesota.)

A private individual apparently authors the web site She claims to represent a “broad coalition” of organizations, but has continually refused to say who they are. She has reportedly worked with the Humane Society of the United States. However, an email received today from the President of HSUS, Wayne Pacelle, clearly states his organization has nothing to do with these competing bills. Furthermore, does not appear to have a legal lobbying presence at the legislature.

So, the question remains: Who is Who are they representing? And why would they be working to sabotage the puppy mill bill?

We will continue to keep you posted as we learn more.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Support MN Dog & Cat Breeder Bill

S.F. 462/H.F. 702

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.


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 -

State Senator
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."

State Representative
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 Situation
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.

Top Producers
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.

The Solution
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.

Bill Highlights
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!

475 North Cleveland Avenue Suite 100B | St. Paul, MN 55104 US

Monday, February 14, 2011

Brooklyn Center animal shelter faces foreclosure

11:32 AM, Feb 14, 2011
BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. -- Cats and dogs have called the Gentle Touch Animal Sanctuary home for many years. But come July those animals may have no place to call home.

Last month the shelter was notified that the mortgage on the building they've been leasing for eight years is in default. Suzanne Thompson, a volunteer with the shelter, says the news came as a surprise because they've always been current with rent.

"Our first concern was what would we do with our animals and where would be able to find a space for them," Thompson said.

The non-profit is scrambling to find a new home. They have until July 31 to relocate but one huge problem stands in the way: money. They need at least $10,000 to move. So far they've raised $3,000. If they don't get enough the animals that cannot be adopted will have no home.

"They deserve to have a life just like some of the more adoptable cats are. They have their own unique personalities," Thompson, said.

The organization does not have a new location picked out yet but Thompson said when they have enough money to start looking they want to remain close to their old home.
To see how you can help, visit their website here.

Written by
Boua Xiong