Home > Uncategorized > Is there someone looking to defeat the breeder bill in MN? You bet. The question is why?

Is there someone looking to defeat the breeder bill in MN? You bet. The question is why?

DSC00449As many of you know, I have been actively pushing to change Minnesota laws related to puppy mills. Being the dog mom to 3 former puppy mill dogs, this is an issue close to my heart. Minnesota has some of the largest commercial breeding facilities in the nation (many have between 600-1200 dogs and/or cats) and they are virtually unregulated.

Unfortunately, we seemed to have hit a snafu:

  1. the House Agriculture Committee has yet to agree to hear the original bill House File 84 (H.F. 84) and Senate File 36 (S.F. 36), and
  2. a new breeder bill [House File 1005 (H.F. 1005) and Senate File 955 (S.F. 955)] was introduced in the Agriculture Committee (February 28th).

I was frustrated to hear about the first one, but I was stunned with the second one. Why would anyone feel the need to introduce a new, competing breeder bill?

The original bill is pretty comprehensive. It includes state licensing for all commercial breeders, annual inspections and documentation on each animal’s disposition, and enforcement of the law through penalties and fines for noncompliance. So why was there a need for an alternate bill? Was something missing from the first bill that needed to be addressed? Or, was something else afoot here?

I knew I needed to start by looking at both sets of bills – side-by-side.

In the interest of time and space, I’ve summarized both bills below, but suffice it to say, this new bill is miles and miles from the first.

  • It doesn’t provide for any monitoring of commercial breeding facilities in terms of animal care and sales.
  • It lacks a defined process for reinforcement and leaves the local veterinarian in charge of certifying the puppies and kitties being sold by a commercial breeding facility are up-to-date on their vaccinations and are disease-free (10 days before they are sold or transported for sale).
  • Most importantly, it essentially leaves everything as it is today. It maintains the status quo.

To say it is a much weaker bill would be an understatement. It’s really no bill at all.

Puppy mills-24 hoursSo who would support such a weak breeder bill and why?

Shockingly, it turns out the bill was introduced on behalf of the Minnesota Veterinarians Medical Association (MVMA).

Yup. You heard me correctly. An association of veterinarians has chosen to introduce a new and competing bill that leaves Minnesota’s dog and cat breeding industry virtually unchanged. Wow. Veterinarians. Who’d have ever thunk it huh?

I couldn’t help but wonder why an association of veterinarians, medical doctors sworn to protect animals, would vote to keep breeder cats and dogs in a continued state of suffering.  Surely they had taken the Veterinarian’s Oath, like other veterinarians do when they graduate? Had they forgotten to use their “scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare”? Did they miss the part about swearing to use their knowledge and skills for “the prevention and relief of animal suffering”?  Or, do they just not take their oath seriously? Maybe to them it’s just a bunch of inconsequential words? Or could it be a matter of choosing money over scruples? Either way, I find it truly disheartening.

Why would a VETERINARIAN’s ASSOCIATION introduce a bill that essentially leaves Minnesota breeding dogs and cats to suffer? What could be their motivation?

Only the MVMA can answer that question, but what is clear is that the only real beneficiaries of this new bill are the commercial breeder and the local veterinarian. Wow. Good going MVMA. So glad we know where you stand now.

IMG_0199The question is what can be done now?

For me, I have chosen to focus on what I can do:

1. I will call the members of the Agriculture Committee to ask them to allow the original bills, House File 84 (H.F. 84) and Senate File 36 (S.F. 36), to be heard.

2. I will call the Governor to ask for his support to have the bill reviewed in committee.

3. I will continue to educate people about puppy mills and ask them to support the breeder bill that offers the best chance to address the puppy mill industry in Minnesota.

We may not end up winning this year, but at least I will know that I did everything I could to pass a bill that protects consumers and improves the living conditions for cats and dogs like Daisy.

I would much rather fight for a bill that does the right thing for Minnnesota’s breeding cats and dogs than support a bill that puts more money into the pockets of those who need it least.  How about you?

Original bill (H.F. 84 and S.F. 36) includes:

  • A definition of all the parties impacted by the bill (dogs, cats, hobby breeders, commercial breeders, local animal control authority and pet dealer).
  • Annual licensure for commercial breeders
  • Reporting by the commercial breeder of the estimated number of dogs or cats intended to be housed in the facility, if they have ever been  have convicted of animal cruelty and whether they operate under more than one name or have ownership interest in a facility,
  • A pre-license inspection within 60 days of the license application being received.
  • An annual license fee of $250 (it’s $10 per animal but not to exceed $250).
  • An annual report by the commercial breeder of how many animals they have at their facility.
  • A requirement that the commercial breeder obtain and hold a USDA-license (this is important because many breeders are dropping their USDA license so they aren’t subject to inspection and can sell online)
  • State reimbursement  to local governments for costs incurred for assistance in a seizure action.
  • Creating a directory of commercial breeders
  • Animal care guidelines, staffing requirements and when an animal can be sold, traded or given away (i.e., not before 8 weeks of age).
  • Penalties and fines for noncompliance and criminal charges in cases of animal abuse.

New and weaker Bill (H.F. 1005 and S.F. 955) includes:

  • A definition of cat, dog and commercial breeder.
  • A certificate of veterinary inspection be completed by a veterinarian for all cats and dogs sold by the commercial breeder.
  • A certificate to be completed at least ten days prior to the sale or distribution of a cat or dog which indicates that the animal was not found to have any signs of infectious or contagious disease.
  • A requirement that the commercial breeder keep records on each dog or cat in their facility (how the animal was acquired and from whom, vaccinations given to the animal and by whom, identification numbers, description of the dog or cat, who received the dog or cat and any disease conditions diagnosed by a veterinarian).
  • That the Board of Animal Health, a local animal control authority, licensed peace officer, or humane agent (of which there are 3 for the whole state of MN) inspect any formal complaint made of a commercial breeders and enforce the requirements.

Puppy mill kennels

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. March 12, 2013 at 12:46 AM

    Bless you and thank you. I have seen much more of the results of these operations than I can bear.

    • Mel
      March 12, 2013 at 7:17 AM

      I am sure you have Ogee. I have too. It’s so frustrating to see an organization like this side with commercial breeders.

      • March 12, 2013 at 8:43 AM

        Follow the money 😦

      • Mel
        March 12, 2013 at 11:07 PM

        Yup. Agree Audrey.

  2. March 12, 2013 at 1:13 AM

    Politics and favors are everywhere and this is truly disgusting. I would like to hear what the MVMA has to say about why they are backing the ineffective version of this bill. It is so clear when you put them side by side that the short form bill simply won’t do the job. I hope the news organizations come down them and don’t let up until they are forced go on record and answer to the public.

    From what you have shown, they should be soundly trounced by Minnesotans. Yes, they are a private organization, but frankly if veterinarians want to keep pet people coming into the office, they better start making better decisions in these matters. None of the requirements in the thoughtful long version appear to me to be unenforceable in law, although I am not lawyer; it looks like legislation that would actually protect the animals.

    Thanks for writing about this!

    • Mel
      March 12, 2013 at 7:19 AM

      Thanks Mary. If only it were a matter of backing an ineffective bill. My understanding is the MVMA actually wrote the bill. Stunning isn’t it? Why would an organization like that do something that hurts animals in the long run? I think we can all guess. It’s a sad state of affairs in MN right now.

  3. March 12, 2013 at 3:53 AM

    More power to you Melissa.

    • Mel
      March 12, 2013 at 7:16 AM

      Thanks Peta.

  4. March 12, 2013 at 5:19 AM

    Ditto Ogee. They need to go and soon. Have a terrific Tuesday.
    Best wishes Molly

  5. March 12, 2013 at 6:49 AM

    All I can think is that the MVMA thinks the original bill will put some breeders out of business, meaning less business for them. Why does everything always have to be about money? You would like to think that anyone in the pet business cares more about pets than anything else. It is just depressing that that is not so. I agree in continuing to fight for the original bill….the second one doesn’t really seem to amount to much. Keep up the fight and feel good about what you are trying to do. I admire you for it.

    • Mel
      March 12, 2013 at 7:14 AM

      Thanks WagNWoofs. I think you hit the nail on the head. Sad isn’t it? I will continue to fight for the bill that will bring change. Thank you.

  6. March 12, 2013 at 8:12 AM

    Shame On You Veterinarians!!

  7. March 12, 2013 at 10:22 AM

    Thanks for everything, Mel. It looks to me that the vets are saying, If someone’s going to examine these animals it should be us, because we are the best judges, and if we see that the animals are in bad shape we will have authority to say so, and there are going to be breeders anyway no matter what…….. But what would be done to improve the facility itself, limit the numbers, etc etc. there is a vet that the Humane society uses when there is a big hoard of animals rescued, Terry Derr, I wonder what she thinks? I’m going to check that out, and contact my Senator.

    • Mel
      March 12, 2013 at 9:30 PM

      Thanks Natasha. I’m not sure what they are saying, but it certainly doesn’t look like they are saying anything that matches the oath they took does it? It’s very disappointing. I can only hope the agriculture committee lets H.F. 84 be heard.

  8. March 12, 2013 at 12:08 PM

    That’s a shame! Vets are suppose to be the advocates for these poor animals.

    • Mel
      March 12, 2013 at 9:29 PM

      I agree Gracie. That’s what makes this so disappointing.

  9. March 12, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    I snooped around the MVMA site and found they are also opposing softening regulations against the sale of raw milk. It sounds like they’re lining up with big agriculture. I bet you’d find the agriculture industry brings more money to the MVMA than pet people.

    Good luck pushing the original bill through. Fight the good fight.

    • Mel
      March 12, 2013 at 9:28 PM

      Thanks Pamela. I believe you are correct about the connection. Their Legislative Director is tied to MNFRAC, which is a conglomerate of agriculture industry people.
      I can only hope that the representatives will allow this bill to come before the Agriculture Committee.

  10. March 13, 2013 at 6:59 AM

    Welcome to my world. Been there, done that. In Missouri. Leading opponents to protective animal legislation are the commercial dog breeders (of course), ag businesses, and … vets. Follow the money. 😦

    • Mel
      March 13, 2013 at 7:06 AM

      I thought of Missouri when I first heard about the bill Sue. It makes me so sad to think that agriculture has decided to align itself with puppy mills. I wish dogs and cats were considered livestock.

      • March 14, 2013 at 3:54 AM

        Here in MO, I’m very glad dogs and cat are not totally considered livestock – you can do just about anything to livestock here… :-0

      • Mel
        March 14, 2013 at 6:34 AM

        I wish they weren’t at all Sue. We could probably get more accomplished that way.

  11. March 13, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    Big everything is destroying this country. It is no longer the country of the people, it is the country of the rich and greedy. Very sad.

    The animals are lucky to have you on their side.

    • Mel
      March 13, 2013 at 10:30 PM

      What a great way to say it Jodi. Big everything. There is a lot of truth in that.

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