legislation > talking points
The following copy lists multiple points about problematic dog and cat breeding in Minnesota and the need for regulation. Feel free to use these points when talking with your legislators or others about why dog and cat breeder regulation is needed.
Also, please consider downloading and printing the following materials:
• Bill Flyer
• Healthy and Safe brochure
• Why Regulation
KEY MESSAGE: Commercial dog and cat breeding is a business. And yet, unlike other industries, these businesses are not required to obtain a State license to operate and there are no established inspections by the State to enforce standards of care. Lack of oversight results in substandard and deplorable breeding conditions which harms animals, consumers and communities.
The goal of S.F. 36/H.F. 84 is to ensure healthy and safe dogs and cats in breeding facilities by regulating the dog and cat breeding industry in Minnesota through:
• Licensing — Require commercial dog and cat breeders in Minnesota to be licensed.
• Inspections and Enforcement — Give the Minnesota Board of Animal Health the authority to inspect commercial dog and cat breeding facilities and enforce existing State laws to ensure animal care standards are met.
• Penalties — Impose civil, administrative and criminal penalties for those who violate the law.
The problem is inhumane dog and cat breeding practices in Minnesota by unscrupulous or negligent breeders, and a lack of oversight of this industry.
• No state laws
Commercial dog and cat breeders (those who produce animals for sale or resale) are businesses, yet this industry is not regulated to ensure high standards or quality conditions. Minnesota has no State laws to license, inspect or regulate dog and cat breeding facilities in Minnesota.
• Top producers
Minnesota is among the top producers of puppies in the United States, with some of the largest breeding kennels in the nation — housing 200, 500 or over 1,000 more dogs and puppies. Kittens are also mass-produced in Minnesota. Dog and cat breeders are located in all areas of the State.
• Substandard and deplorable conditions
While many breeders in Minnesota act responsibly, there are unscrupulous or negligent breeders who have created deplorable breeding conditions. Adult dogs and cats live their lives in small, overcrowded cages and are bred repeatedly. Cages are often stacked, allowing feces and urine to fall onto the animals below. Animals may be malnourished from inadequate food and water, receive little or no veterinary care, are stressed from constant confinement and neglect, have fleas, worms, etc. Many have deformed paws, are severely matted, or are burned from sitting and standing in urine and feces. With many of these type of breeders, the animals are rarely, if at all, provided human interaction or socialization, resulting in psychological and behavioral problems.
• Internet use keeps breeding conditions hidden
With increased use of the Internet, selling has become easier. Many breeders now operate their own website or sell through online breeder directories. By selling online, unscrupulous breeders hide their kennel conditions and make contact/owner information difficult to obtain. Pleasant photographs are posted online and unhealthy animals are sold to unsuspecting consumers, who end up paying high veterinarian costs.
• Potential to get worse
Many states have passed breeder laws; however, it's been proven that some breeders then move to unregulated states. In 2009, Wisconsin passed the Commercial Dog Breeders Licensure Bill. In 2009, Iowa, too, strengthened its existing dog breeder law by including USDA-licensed breeders along with state-licensed breeders in its regulations. Minnesota remains unregulated.
CURRENT "SYSTEM" IS NOT WORKING
• Animal anti-cruelty laws are complaint-based
Animal anti-cruelty statutes in Minnesota are vital, but these laws kick in after the cruelty occurs — and only if a person sees and reports the cruelty to authorities, law enforcement investigates, and the prosecutor pursues the case. Minnesota animal anti-cruelty laws are complaint-based; if no one files a complaint, no action is taken. 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 occurs.
• In-state and out-of-state consumers misled
Consumers rarely file complaints if they are sold a sick animal from a breeder, website or pet store. (The choice of returning the sick animal to the store or breeder, where the animal may be killed, is not an option for many consumers.) Dog and cat registries have also led consumers to believe that an animal may be healthy by merely being "registered". Regulation will allow consumers to be better informed so as to differentiate between good and bad breeders.
• Strain on local government
Relying on cruelty investigations and prosecution as a means to encourage ethical business standards is time-consuming and costly for local law enforcement, animal control and the courts. Regulation is a more efficient use of resources because it is based on standards (i.e., a business must comply to the standards to obtain and keep its license).
• Communities forced to "clean up" mess
Tens of thousands of dogs and cats are produced by Minnesota breeders each year. Many of these animals end up in local animal shelters/humane societies or rescue groups, who must raise millions of dollars to house and treat unwanted, sick or abused animals. Local animal control facilities also care for animals, at taxpayer's expense. The breeding industry pays nothing to support these efforts. Further, thousands of dogs and cats in Minnesota are euthanized yearly due to lack of homes and resources.
• Lax USDA enforcement
Under the Animal Welfare Act, the USDA is granted authority to license and regulate certain dog/cat breeders and dealers — those who sell wholesale (i.e, to pet stores). (As of 2013, there are approximately 37 breeders and brokers in Minnesota who are licensed by the USDA. This represents a small fraction of total breeders in Minnesota. Some of these kennels, however, are large so represent a high volume of puppy production.) A recent audit by the Inspector General of the USDA's regulatory actions concluded that the USDA failed to properly enforce the Animal Welfare Act and protect animals from harm.
• Minnesota loses sales tax revenues
In Minnesota, the sales and purchases of pets are taxable. In 2010, Animal Folks MN conducted a study that showed 74% of sampled dog and cat breeders in Minnesota do not have an active sales tax permit. Unlike other businesses in Minnesota, dog and cat breeders are not licensed. Licensing, as a part of regulation, would make it easier for the MN Department of Revenue to collect sales (and income) tax from breeders, contributing millions of dollars in lost revenues to the State.
• Reputable breeders at disadvantage
Commercial dog and cat breeding is a business. Without regulation, reputable breeders struggle to compete with breeders who under-cut prices, and produce puppies or kittens that are sick, diseased, or have genetic problems.
A large coalition of Minnesotans have been working hard for several years to pass legislation to regulate the dog and cat breeding industry and ensure dogs, cats, puppies and kittens are healthy and safe in breeding facilities. Efforts are supported by Minnesota humane societies, rescue groups, animal control, veterinarians, businesses, legislators, students, law enforcement, lawyers and community members. Specifically, to date:
• Over 220 Minnesota veterinarians and vet techs have signed a petition in support of dog/cat breeder regulation
• Over 50 Minnesota animal organizations are in support of breeder regulation, including the Minnesota Animal Control Association
• Over 18,000 petitions signed by Minnesotans in support of commercial dog and cat breeder regulation have been delivered to Minnesota legislators, representing every Senate and House district in the State.
QUESTIONS AND LINKS
• Want an example of how the current "system" is broken? Go to: Bauck
• Want to have a better understanding of inhumane breeding? Issue
• Want to view videos of various breeding facilities? Videos