From shelter adoption policies to the end of a reptile ban to rules for adding a backyard chicken coop, Minneapolis’ animal-related ordinances could soon be in for a significant update.
Council Member Andrew Johnson is proposing a long list of changes he says amount to a “huge step for those who care about animal issues.” The plan, which Johnson drew up with the help of Minneapolis Animal Care and Control officials and advocates with the group Citizens for Minneapolis Animal Care, will more clearly outline the responsibilities of both pet owners and the city’s shelter.
Some of the changes would put an official stamp on policies the shelter has already begun to change on its own. Caroline Hairfield, the city’s animal control deputy director, said the shelter has been systematically building closer relationships with other agencies that can help with or take in animals that end up in the shelter — which has resulted in fewer animals being euthanized.
One of Johnson’s proposals mirrors a step taken last year in St. Paul, where the city formalized its policies for avoiding euthanasia whenever possible. The council member also wants the Minneapolis shelter to do away with its method of euthanizing injured wildlife in a gas chamber. Instead, the shelter would inject a lethal dose of drugs, as it does with domestic animals that have to be put down.
Last year, the city got 219 requests to dispose of wild animals. That number includes both animals that were already dead when the shelter was notified and those that had to be euthanized. Some may have also been treated.
Hairfield said the changes should help ensure more animals get treatment and new homes.
“Our goal is to be able to adopt or transfer to other facilities all animals who are healthy and placeable in the sense of being mentally and physically treatable,” she said.
Meanwhile, the revisions would also cover policies for some specific types of animals.
Minneapolis currently prohibits residents from owning reptiles of any kind — including snakes, iguanas and even turtles. But Hairfield said officials are currently drafting a plan that would allow reptiles as pets, potentially with licenses.
Owning a rabbit will also be easier; current laws require rabbit owners to license their pets, just like those who own dogs and cats. The revisions would remove the rabbit license requirement. Rabbit owners who have at least two other pets will still have to abide by the city’s rule about getting a multiple animal permit for homes with four or more pets.
Ferrets, however, will still have to be licensed. Hairfield said that’s because they are one of three types of pets (along with dogs and cats) required to have a rabies vaccination.
Another change: the process for getting the city’s OK for having a chicken in your yard. Currently, prospective chicken farmers must survey their neighbors and gather signatures from 80 percent of the people who live within 100 feet of the property.
The city currently has about 260 licensed chicken coops.
Adam Bennett, a veterinarian and member of Citizens for Minneapolis Animal Care, said he’s most excited about the prospect of better record keeping by the city on the animals that pass through the shelter. He said that will help to gauge how well Minneapolis is doing when it comes to placing animals in homes and how it stacks up against other cities.
“Hopefully, the city is starting to look at animal control and think: We could be the leaders of the nation on some things,” he said.
Johnson said he expects his proposal will have the backing of most council members.
Erin Golden • 612-673-4790