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Home » Issues & Legislation » Watch List 2013-2014 » 2013-2014 MN Companion Animal Protection Act
2013-2014 MN Companion Animal Protection Act
This bill was heard Thurs, Feb 27, 2014, in the House Agriculture Committee. It was laid over; no votes taken.

MN Companion Animal Protection Act

The Minnesota Companion Animal Protection Act, HF 391/ SF 1204, was introduced by Representative Benson and Senator Rosen in 2013, and is still alive in 2014. You can read the bill language here.

The Minnesota Companion Animal Protection Act (MN CAPA) is proposed state legislation that would regulate how public and private animal shelters engage in their work of taking in stray and owner-surrendered animals, how and under what conditions shelter employees may euthanize animals, how animals are cared for in the shelter, and how shelters record and share with the public their practices and results.

At first glance, MN CAPA appears straightforward and practical in the issues it addresses. But as written, it has generated both support and opposition among animal protection advocates and organizations who have studied the bill’s proposals, short-term implementation issues and long-term consequences. While Minnesota Voters for Animal Protection (MVAP) supports ongoing improvements in the professional, compassionate and transparent operation and management of animal shelters and animal control agencies, we have concerns with HF 391/SF 1204 as it is written.

MVAP’S KEY CONCERNS WITH MN CAPA

1. MN CAPA requires that shelters maintain a registry of nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations willing to accept animals (e.g., rescues, or those calling themselves rescues) and that any nonprofit organization wanting to be placed on a shelter’s registry must be placed on that registry. It further allows that shelters may only refuse to place a nonprofit on their registry if the nonprofit’s directors, officers, staff, or volunteers have been convicted or charged of cruelty to animals or neglect of animals.

MVAP believes that the absence of a conviction or charge of cruelty or neglect does not equate an organization’s competency or ability to provide adequate care for animals. Further, tax status is conferred upon an organization by the IRS and is not contingent upon the organization’s ability to humanely care for animals. Using tax status as the determining criteria for mandatory inclusion on an organization’s registry could potentially lead to harm for animals: an organization that is tax exempt could receive animals it is not in a position to properly care for.

2. MN CAPA requires extensive paperwork and record keeping, including mandates to: match lists of lost and found animals continuously; to undertake efforts to notify owners of lost animals by phone, mail and personal service to the last known owner address and to keep records of those efforts available for public review for at least three years; when euthanasia is done, the shelter must certify why it was unable to place the animal in foster care, what would be required in the future to provide the needed care in its facility or in foster care and what steps are being taken to do so and when it will be accomplished; and monthly and annual summaries of intake, adoption and euthanasia statistics.

MVAP supports transparency in shelter management. But to require upon passage of the legislation that every shelter in the state, regardless of resources, immediately implement the above is potentially burdensome enough to reduce shelters’ ability to continue the work they’re currently doing for the animals in their care.

SUMMARY

MN CAPA is an attempt in the worthy effort to improve the care of shelter animals and enhance opportunities for their return to owners, rescue, or adoption. However, implementation of certain operational and oversight requirements as currently proposed in the bill would create undue burden on Minnesota’s shelters and create potentially harmful results. Nick Wasche, who works in animal control for Minneapolis and who is a board member of the Minnesota Animal Control Association said in an 2012 article titled “No Kill Bill” published in Minneapolis-St. Paul magazine, “If this bill gets passed, citizens all over Minnesota are going to suffer because of the decreased services shelters and animal –control agencies are going to be able to provide the public, because the staff will be busy doing paperwork…” And as Vicki Davis, Executive Director of Tri-County Humane Society in central Minnesota, said in the same article, “The bill concerns me because it looks good on the surface, but it’s not… All of us are trying to reduce our euthanasia rates. But to do that, the national trend has been toward reducing the amount of time animals spend in the shelter and adopting them out faster. The requirements of MNCAPA would do just the opposite. They’d bog things down with unnecessary paperwork and create more stress for the animals, not less.”

MVAP will continue to follow this bill’s progress in the 2013-2014 legislative session. Look for all bill updates on our Watch List 2013-2014 page.

For more information on MN CAPA, please see information from bill supporters here, and information from bill opponents here.

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