Bill would require Minnesota pet breeders to be licensed

Published 9:21 am Monday, April 15, 2013

By Sasha Aslanian
Minnesota Public Radio News

After six failed attempts, a bill that would require dog and cat breeders in Minnesota to obtain licenses could begin to move through the Legislature this year, thanks to the efforts of animal welfare advocates who contend it is far too easy for breeders to peddle animals online.

Among those leading the charge is Nancy Minion, a member of the Speak Up for Dogs and Cats coalition. She has pressed state legislators to focus on animal welfare for 24 years.

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“I was just sitting at the couch watching TV one night and I saw a story of a dog that was beaten blind and deaf,” she said of the moment that first brought her to the state capitol. “And I just went ‘All right, that’s it.’”

In 2001, Minion helped convince state legislators to pass a felony animal cruelty law that allows authorities to seize animals from people convicted of the crime. In 2004, she and other advocates prodded legislators to ban tigers, monkeys and bears as pets.

For the past six years, Minion has focused on dog and cat breeders. Breeders who sell to pet stores have to abide by U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations, but there are a very small number of breeders who make such sales. A patchwork of local ordinances in Minnesota largely caps the number of animals that pet owners can have.

The next measure Minion wants the legislature to pass would license operations with 10 or more breeding animals that produce more than five litters a year. Under a bill sponsored by state Rep. John Lesch, DFL-St. Paul, licenses would cost $10 per animal, up to a maximum of $250 a year. Breeding facilities would also be subject to annual inspections from the Minnesota Board of Animal Health.

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