MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Minnesota has long relied on citizen complaints to discover and take action against breeders who abuse or neglect their animals. But a law taking effect this week requires dog and cat breeders to register with the state Board of Animal Health, and next year, they will have to be licensed.
“The goal is not to punish people,” DFL state Sen. John Marty of Roseville, who sponsored the Senate version of the bill, told the Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/1lSTc3f ). “It’s to make sure animals are treated humanely.”
It marks the first time Minnesota will have specific regulations for commercial cat and dog breeders. Most states have some degree of regulation in place, although about a dozen states have none, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Commercial breeders used to be regulated by an assortment of vague and arbitrary state laws governing animal treatment, said Keith Streff of the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley.
“And it was difficult to apply them effectively, because we were always after-the-fact,” Streff said.
The new law establishes specific standards. The checklist for Board of Animal Health inspections has 31 requirements, including clean water and good ventilation, separation of sick from healthy animals, and collars that are well-fitted and comfortable.
The bill spent years on the legislative agenda. Marty said some opposition came from people who worried the law would affect animal agriculture while some came from commercial dog and cat breeders whom the law would directly affect.
“They were just flying under the radar, and they liked it that way,” Marty said. “And they were vocal.”
The law regulates only cat and dog breeders with 10 or more adult animals that produce more than five litters each year.
Steve Bannie, 66, breeds one or two litters of springer spaniels annually at his home in Scandia, so the law won’t apply to him. But he’s opposed to it because he says laws already in place weed out problem breeders.
“Truly, I think it’s a waste of time and money,” he said.
Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com