New Minnesota law tightens collar on dog and cat breeders

  • Article by: EMMA NELSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 2, 2014 - 6:01 AM

Now, they have to register with the state Board of Animal Health. Next year, they’ll need licensing.

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One of the many dogs available for adoption at the Golden Valley Humane Society was met with plenty of hugs and affection from Melissa Eitel.

Photo: GLEN STUBBE • gstubbe@startribune.com,

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Last month, someone bought a puppy from a breeder selling dogs out of a house in rural Carlton County. When it was found to be in ill health, the buyer complained to the sheriff.

The sheriff reported it to the Animal Humane Society, which found 49 dogs, including 13 puppies, in the breeder’s house. All were turned over to the Humane Society.

That’s how it has always worked in Minnesota — irresponsible commercial breeders haven’t faced consequences unless someone reports them.

Now that has changed. As of Tuesday, Minnesota cat and dog breeders are required to register with the Minnesota Board of Animal Health. And starting next year, they will have to be licensed.

“We’re trying to be proactive,” said state Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, who sponsored the Senate version of the bill.

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, though about a dozen states have none, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

In the past, commercial breeders were regulated by an assortment of state statutes governing animal treatment, said Keith Streff of the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley.

“[The statutes are] very vague, and they’re very arbitrary,” Streff said. “And it was difficult to apply them effectively, because we were always after-the-fact.”

Laws applied to commercial breeders could be as general as requiring them to provide food and water to animals, Streff said — a need that is very different for a Yorkie than for a St. Bernard.

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 animals from healthy ones, and collars that are well-fitted and comfortable.

The law comes with strong support from Gov. Mark Dayton, who is a dog owner.

“The humane and decent treatment of these innocent creatures is no longer an unwritten expectation — it is the law,” Dayton said.

Law faced opposition

The bill that became this law spent years on the legislative agenda.

There was a lot of opposition, Marty said. Some came from people who worried that passage would affect animal agriculture; 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,” he said. “And they were vocal.”

Negotiations brought the bill to its current form and got stakeholders such as the Minnesota Farmers Union and the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association on board, Marty said. 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 out of his home in Scandia, so the law won’t apply to him. Still, he’s opposed to it.

  • related content

  • Keith Streff, a humane agent from the Golden Valley Humane Society, will be working with the Minnesota Board of Animal Health to regulate commercial breeders under the new law.

  • These Labrador retrievers are part of a group of 49 surrendered voluntarily to the Golden Valley Humane Society by a Carlton County breeder whose dogs had health issues. The dogs will need to be trained with people.

  • Sara Sabri took a trip to the Golden Valley Humane Society on Tuesday, perusing the dog kennels with hopes of adopting new furry friend.

  • Other new laws

    OTHER NEW LAWS

    Gender gap

    A new law overhauled protections for women in the workplace. Several pieces of the Women’s Economic Security Act — signed by Gov. Mark Dayton on Mother’s Day — went into effect Tuesday. Funds will funnel women toward high-wage nontraditional jobs. Employers no longer can discriminate based on pregnancy status and must offer adequate unpaid break time to nursing mothers. Family and sick leave is stretched from six weeks to 12. The law also includes equal-pay provisions.

    School funding

    All 64,000 kindergartners in Minnesota will receive free breakfast under a new law channeling more money to schools. Dayton said that in the past two years, the state has paid back $2.8 billion borrowed from schools and provided free full-day school to every kindergartner.

    Railroad crossing

    Crude-oil accidents in neighboring states have triggered new laws for those who live near railroad tracks. Petroleum products are shuttled through Minnesota from North Dakota oil fields, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The law calls for more railway inspections, better emergency-response training and rules for companies after dangerous spills.

    More biodiesel for all

    The nation’s first required 10 percent biodiesel blend hits Minnesota roads this summer. This mix — B10 — will be sold from April 1 to Sept. 30, and switches to a 5 percent blend from October to March, called B5.

    E-cigarettes

    A sweeping ban on e-cigarettes reaches from health care facilities to government buildings to public universities; restaurants, bars and other private businesses can choose whether to ban e-cigarettes. New restrictions will start in the next few months, such as an e-cigarette kiosk sale ban and a mandate of child-resistant packaging for e-cigarette liquid.

    Pregnant inmates

    More humane tactics are in place for pregnant inmates. Officials at local or state correctional facilities can’t restrain women in labor or use waist chains or handcuffs behind their backs. It requires testing for sexually transmitted diseases and giving pregnancy-related informational material to pregnant inmates.

    Kill switch

    Smartphones are becoming harder to steal. Used-phone dealers will start keeping records of phone sellers and device information, plus a signed seller statement attesting that the phone isn’t stolen. These dealers have to install video equipment to record the faces of the phone sellers. Smartphones manufactured after July 2015 must have smartphone anti-theft technology that disables the phone.

    BEENA RAGHAVENDRAN

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