Update on dog and cat breeder bill

Status update for S.F. 36 / H.F. 84 (Senator John Marty / Representative John Lesch)

SpeakUp logo-legislation-2013-2014
Thank you for your calls, emails, and talking with legislators.   

March 19, 2013– A hearing on the dog and cat breeder bill was not granted in the House Agriculture Committee. Because no hearing was held, the policy committee deadline of March 15, 2013, was not met and the chances of S.F. 36/H.F. 84 moving forward this year are slim.  This year’s session is not over and there can always be unexpected actions.  We will continue to lobby and advocate and keep you informed.

The good news: The bills are still alive.

Minnesota operates on a two year biennial session so all work accomplished this year will apply to next year when session begins again in February 2014. The bills will continue where they left off; they don’t have to be heard again in the committees they passed.

A lot was accomplished this year:

  • H.F. 84 passed THREE committees in the House without any harmful amendments being added
  • Governor Mark Dayton came out to publicly support 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”

Unfortunately, over the years, the Agriculture Committees in both the House and Senate continue to control this issue and don’t allow the bills to be heard at all or else they vote it down.  We have come further this year than ever before and are confident hearings will be held in those committees in 2014.  What we did not want to happen is to have a hearing and lose the vote because then the bill would be dead.

Opposition

We are still hearing the same comments from opposition:

  • Slippery slope argument – that if regulation passes, next year it will go into the barns and farms
  • 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)

MVMA Bill – Conflicting Bill

You may have been surprised to read that the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) had a bill introduced that basically left the dogs and cats in breeding facilities “status quo”.  The authors are Representative Tim Faust and Senator Lyle Koenen (H.F. 1005/S.F. 955). Here are highlights of that bill:

  • No required licensing
  • No required inspections – the Board of Animal Health “may” inspect a commercial breeder and “may” enforce the bill – not “shall”.
  • Complaint-based – adds the Board of Animal Health as an additional authority to initiate an investigation IF someone makes a formal complaint against a commercial breeder. This is the same system MN currently has. The animal must first be neglected, abused, diseased or dead and a complaint filed before action is taken by law enforcement and the courts (costly and not preventative).
  • Requires the breeder to provide a health certificate for dogs and cats sold (very similar to the existing MN Pet Lemon Law) but does nothing to help the breeding dogs and cats confined in the facilities.

The MVMA’s status quo bill is a weaker bill because, without required licensing and inspections, it does not effectively address the problem.  The Speak Up for Dogs and Cats coalition has been approaching individual veterinary professionals and, to date, over 320 veterinarians and vet techs have signed petitions in support of H.F. 84/S.F. 36.

What You Can Do

We need to continue to build momentum and secure votes in preparation for 2014.

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).  If your legislator is not supportive of the bill, please contact us and let us know who they are and what the issue is; we may be able to clarify something for that legislator.
  • Educate — Inform others about this issue and tell them how they can help. Distribute flyers. Write letters to the editor. Here are bill basics.
  • Involve your veterinarian – If your vet and the vet techs want to support this effort, please have them sign the petition at www.animalfolksmn.org

Talking Points

Stacked cages in puppy millThe 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 the problem 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; and
  • Penalties – Impose civil, administrative and criminal penalties for those who violate the law.

Speak Up for Dogs and Cats Coalition

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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