The implementation July 1 of a new state law governing large commercial dog and cat breeders is a welcome step in improving quality control of Minnesota’s segment of America’s $55 billion (and growing) pet industry.
While the American Pet Products Association reports that live animal purchases made up only about $2.23 billion of those expenditures last year nationally, problems rooted in pets bred at large-scale operations no doubt contributed to $27 billion spent on veterinary care and medicines in 2013. So, like more than two dozen other states, Minnesota finally this legislative session adopted a well-defined inspection and licensing system for large-scale breeders. The measure should improve the quality of pets bred and sold, which also means more satisfied consumers.
It’s worth noting that Minnesota adopted this law in large part because the federal Animal Welfare Act, created almost half a century ago, has long been criticized for not being strict enough. For example, until November, it did not govern large-scale breeding operations that sold animals directly to the public. The U.S. Department of Agriculture could oversee only large operations that sold “wholesale” to pet stores.
Minnesota’s new law addresses that and many other requirements involving facilities, standards of care, confinement areas, records and identification of animals, transportation, and veterinary care. Some examples of those most beneficial are:
• Animals must be fed at least once each day and watered twice daily.
• An animal sold or otherwise distributed by a commercial breeder must be accompanied by a veterinary health certificate completed by a veterinarian.
• Animals must not be sold, traded or given away before the age of eight weeks unless a veterinarian determines it would be in the best interests of the animal.
Those are a few of more than 30 requirements, most of which should not raise concerns from responsible breeders. (See the complete list at http://bit.ly/1zmVVHJ.)
Certainly, the new law requires more time and money from large-scale breeding operations. The other part of that equation, though, is that those breeders will be able to command higher prices, because this law should improve the quality of the animals.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE ST. CLOUD TIMES