legislation > q & a
The Minnesota Dog and Cat Breeder Regulation Bill has been introduced for the 2013-2014 Minnesota legislative session. Bill numbers are S.F. 36 and H.F. 84. Information about this bill is presented below.
We urge you to educate your state legislators about the issue and why regulation is needed for this industry. Find out who represents you at: Legislators
NOTE: Animal Folks MN is part of the Speak Up for Dogs and Cats coalition. This coalition, together with thousands of citizens and supporters, has been working to pass dog and cat breeder regulation in Minnesota and ensure the health and safety of dogs and cats in breeding facilities.
1. What is the bill called?
The Dog and Cat Breeder Regulation Bill. The bill numbers are S.F. 36 and H.F. 84. (S.F. stands for Senate File; H.F. is House File.) A bill is often referred to by its numbers, as that is how bills are filed at the Minnesota Legislature. A bill is assigned numbers when it is introduced. Once a bill passes (approved by the Minnesota Legislature) and the Governor signs it, then it becomes "law."
2. Who are the authors?
The Chief Author in the MN Senate is Senator John Marty. The Chief Author in the MN House for the breeder bill is Representative John Lesch. Every bill can also have co-authors, who sign on and show their support. In the MN Senate, a bill can have up to 4 co-authors; in the MN House, a bill can have up to 34 co-authors. Co-authors can sign on to multiple bills. It's important to understand who the co-authors are in case your own legislators have signed on in support. Co-authors can be added at any time and are posted on the legislative website. (Links to co-authors are on the same link to the bill language and actions; see #4 below.)
3. Are the House and Senate bills the same?
The House and Senate bills are companion bills. This means, when first introduced, the bill language for each is identical. As the bills move through the committee process, the language for each may change through amendments — depending on what Senators or Representatives want. In 2013, a few amendments were made to H.F. 84; this is why the most recent amended version is called 2nd Engrossment. (The legislative website, see #4 below, posts the bill language.) For more information on process, go to: How A Bill Becomes Law.
4. Where can I find the bill language?
The bills can be found at:
Bill status and authors/co-authors can also be found on these links.
5. What is the problem this bill is trying to solve?
The problem is inhumane dog and cat breeding practices and conditions in Minnesota by unscrupulous or negligent breeders, and a lack of oversight of this industry.
6. What is meant by "inhumane breeding practices and conditions"?
There is a wide spectrum of business practices in the breeding and selling of dogs and cats in Minnesota. A certain type of breeder (referred to as puppy or kitten mills, backyard breeders, basement breeders or junk breeders) are in the "business" of breeding to make money. For these types of breeders (high-volume or low-volume), corners are cut in operations so as to maximize profits, resulting in substandard or deplorable conditions. Examples:
Animals produced by substandard breeders can be sick, diseased or may have genetic defects. These animals are then sold to the public. Both high-volume and low-volume breeders sell directly to consumers through classified or print ads, websites, parking lots or at the kennel/home. For additional insight, please review the pages on this website.
7. What is the goal of legislation?
To help ensure that dogs, cats, puppies and kittens are healthy and safe within breeding facilities in Minnesota by regulation of commercial dog and cat breeders.
8. What does "regulation" mean and why is it needed?
Licensing and regulation are the legal means to hold businesses accountable for their actions. For instance, hairdressers, liquor stores, restaurants, veterinarians and numerous other businesses in Minnesota must obtain a license to operate and be regulated (i.e., get inspected, adhere to standards, be fined if they break the law). Regulation raises the standards of an industry by weeding out the "bad" businesses. The buying, selling, breeding and dealing of dogs and cats in order to make money is business; these are commercial transactions. It differs from many other businesses in that the "product" is a living being and purchased as a pet.
9. So dog and cat breeders in Minnesota are not regulated?
Correct. Unlike other industries, the State of Minnesota does not require dog and cat breeders to obtain a license to breed and sell dogs and cats to consumers. No State agency has been granted the authority to set up a licensing program, enforce standards through inspections or impose penalties specific to the dog and cat breeding industry. Due to this lack of State oversight, animals are harmed. Consumers, too, are sold unhealthy dogs and cats, and communities (i.e., humane societies, rescue groups, law enforcement, animal control, etc.) are burdened with the responsibility of "dealing with" the problem.
NOTE: Minnesota has a Kennel Law (Statute 347.31), which can apply to certain breeders or dealers if they meet the definition of "kennel." Only one dog dealer in Minnesota is licensed per 347.31. For further explanation, see Minnesota Laws
10. Are humane societies in Minnesota regulated?
Yes. That's the double standard. Some humane societies, animal shelters, rescue organizations and veterinary clinics are licensed and inspected in Minnesota — and have been for years — if they meet the definition under Minn. Stat. Sec. 347.31. Many of these facilities receive sick, neglected and abused dogs and cats from disreputable breeding facilities, in addition to handling stray, abandoned or other unwanted animals; many must raise donations so as to care for the animals.
NOTE: Minn. Stat. 347.31, Subd. 2 defines "kennel" as: "...any place, building, tract of land, abode, or vehicle wherein or whereupon dogs or cats are kept, congregated, or confined, if the dogs or cats were obtained from municipalities, pounds, auctions, or by advertising for unwanted dogs or cats, or dogs or acts strayed, abandoned, or stolen...."
11. Who would be regulated?
A key aspect of any bill is the definition of "who" — i.e., who is required to obtain a license to operate and who will be regulated? The Dog and Cat Breeder Regulation Bill (S.F. 36 /H.F. 84) defines a commercial dog/cat breeder as: "a person, other than a hobby breeder, who possesses or has an ownership interest in animals and is engaged in the business of breeding animals for sale or for exchange in return for consideration, and who possesses ten or more adult intact animals and whose animals produce more than five total litters of puppies or kittens per year." Animals are defined as dogs and cats.
12. How was the "ten" number determined?
The licensing number of "ten or more breeding animals" is based on research (below). Numerous people were consulted for their input, including Minnesota legislators, animal control, humane agents, law enforcement, veterinarians, humane societies, rescue groups, breeders and other experts and stakeholders. Other factors considered:
NOTE: The reason "adult intact animals" is used within definitions is because adult breeding animals (males + females) determine puppy and kitten production. One female could be bred twice a year with an average of 5 puppies/kittens per litter (varies by breed); this can determine the size of a kennel (number of estimated animals).
13. What are the key sections within the bill?
The key sections of the bill (S.F. 36/H.F. 84) are framed as:
14. I heard there have been multiple breeder bills introduced in previous sessions. Is that true and why?
Yes, multiple breeder bills may be introduced by different interests. As with all issues of importance (i.e., animals, education, the environment, healthcare, etc.), different individuals and groups have different opinions as to what works best. Sometimes varying viewpoints and approaches result in multiple bills; sometimes bills are also introduced by opposition groups to stop or slow action.
15. Why is regulation needed for this industry?
To protect animals, consumers and communities. See Talking Points.
16. Do other state laws already exist in Minnesota that solve this problem?
No. Some people believe that there are "already laws on the books" to address this issue. Minnesota does have animal anti-cruelty laws; however, this "system" is complaint-based — i.e., a person must see the inhumane conditions and report the cruelty or neglect; law enforcement may then decide to investigate; and a prosecutor may choose to take the case. This means animal anti-cruelty statutes kick in after the cruelty occurs. Regulation is preventative — allowing authorities to legally enter the property and inspect breeding facilities so conditions can be assessed and cruelty can be prevented before it happens. Relying solely on reporting, cruelty investigations and prosecution is time-consuming and costly for local law enforcement, animal control, animal welfare organizations and the courts. Regulation is a more efficient use of resources.
17. Who is leading and supporting these efforts?
Minnesotans. A coalition of humane societies, rescue groups, animal control, veterinarians, animal protection and advocacy organizations, and citizens have been leading efforts to get a dog and cat breeder passed in the MN Legislature. Over the years, huge strides have been made in educating legislators and the public.
The name of the coalition is Speak Up for Minnesota Dogs and Cats. Members include: A Rotta Love Plus, Animal Folks MN, Animal Humane Society, Minnesota Animal Control Association, Minnesota Humane Society, Minnesota Voters for Animal Protection, Minnkota Persian Rescue, Pause 4 Paws, Pet Haven Inc. of Minnesota, Retrieve A Golden of Minnesota, Second Chance Animal Rescue and Tri-County Humane Society.
In addition to Coalition members, numerous other people and organizations from throughout Minnesota expressed support for breeder regulation, including:
This Coalition and supporters will continue to work on breeder regulation — until a bill is passed into law.
18. What is the legislative history about this issue?
In 1994, a law was passed in the Minnesota Legislature regarding the sale of dogs and cats (the Pet Lemon Law, which is a consumer protection law). In 2007, a bill to regulate dog and cat breeders was introduced, but no hearings were granted. A revised bill was introduced in 2008; it did not pass. In 2009-2010, a renewed attempt was made. A bill was introduced in the MN Legislature to provide regulations of certain dog and cat breeders. Conversations were held with diverse groups, and compromise language was made to the bills. The House bill passed two committees; the Senate bill was voted down in the Senate Agriculture committee. 2011-2012 was a new biennial session — with new legislators and a new majority. No hearings were granted in 2011 or 2012. Over the years, significant progress has been made in generating awareness and understanding of the problem; however, opposing interests have stopped or slowed passage of any reasonable regulation, leaving dogs and cats unprotected in breeding, brokering and retail operations. The Coalition will not stop until a state law is passed to regulate the dog and cat breeding industry and protect dogs and cats within breeding facilities.
UPDATE: The Breeder Bill (S.F. 36/H.F. 84) was introduced in 2013 for the 2013-2014 legislative session. In 2013, H.F. 84 passed three House committees and much progress was made which can carry over into 2014. (See Follow The Vote.)
19. Who is the opposition?
Over the years, "opposition" to breeder regulation has changed as people and groups become more informed. Unfortunately, some still present myths and lies to legislators. Key opposing views:
Creating laws is never easy; often the best tactic is communication — inform legislators about the problem and dispel the myths and fears. See Opposition.
20. Do breeders support regulation?
Some do; some don't. Often with regulation, if a particular sub-sector is excluded from the definition (i.e., not required to be licensed or regulated), they may offer support. Breeders of hunting and sporting dogs, for instance, have lobbied in past years to be excluded from any regulation. That exclusion alone could represent over 40 breeds — and assume that hunting/sporting dogs do not require standards of care.
Many breeders in Minnesota act responsibly and invest in the well-being of each animal. Reputable breeders understand animal husbandry and possess skills in animal health, care, genetics and other factors. Reputable breeders support regulation:
There are some breeders and dealers, however, who view dogs and cats as inventory — to be bred as "stock" and sold as "products". Breeding, for these type of breeders, is about quantity (sales), not quality (animal health). When their livelihood is questioned (i.e., asked to conduct business at a higher standard), these type of breeders fight to keep the "status quo" rather than work towards innovative solutions.
21. What can I do to help?
See Spread The Word.
22. How do I contact my legislators and what do I say?
See Contact Legislators.
23. When did the 2013 Minnesota legislative session (first half of the 2013-2014 session) begin and end?
Started January 8, 2013 and ended May 20, 2013.
24. When did the 2014 Minnesota legislative session begin (second half of the 2013-2014 session)?
February 25, 2014
25. Can legislators be contacted during the interim months (when the Legislature is not "in session") and during the session?
Yes. Legislators want to hear from constituents. The interim months are an excellent time to meet with your legislators. Most legislators are back at home in their own community. They can be contacted and meet with you directly. During the session months, legislators travel back and forth from St. Paul (the State Capitol) to their home city. If you need to contact your legislator, it is best to call or email his or her aide who organizes the legislator's schedule.