Monday, February 23, 2009

From the Animal Humane Society:

UPDATE on the Minnesota Puppy and Kitten Mill Bill

The Minnesota Puppy and Kitten Mill Bill, H.F. 253 (authored by Representative Tom Tillberry), will be heard in the House Public Safety Policy and Oversight Committee soon. We will be sending a call-to-action alert as soon as the bill is granted a hearing and the date is confirmed.

Also, as you know, the Senate companion bill S.F. 7 (authored by Senator Don Betzold) was tabled in the Senate Agriculture Committee for further discussion. We will alert you when this second hearing is going to be held so you can call those members.

If you haven't already done so, please contact your State Representative and State Senator and tell him/her of your strong support of H.F. 253 (the Tillberry bill) and S.F. 7 (the Betzold bill). Also, when talking with others, please consider the points below.

IMPORTANT: Please mention the bill number and author's name

In the House: Be sure to clearly state that you support H.F. 253 and give the House author's name (Representative Tillberry), because another bill, H.F. 573 by Rep. Juhnke, has been introduced and is a weaker bill.

In the Senate: Be sure to clearly state that you support S.F. 7 and give the Senate author's name (Senator Betzold), because another bill, S.F. 500 by Senator Erickson Ropes, has been introduced and is a weaker bill.

For highlights of H.F. 253 (Tillberry)/S.F. 7(Betzold) and for reasons why the other bills are weaker, scroll down to Talking Points below.

Thank you for your strong support and commitment to protecting animals.


H.F. 253 (Tillberry) and S.F. 7 (Betzold) are companion bills, which means the language for each, at the time of introduction, was the same.

Please feel free to refer to the talking points below when speaking with or writing to your own legislators or committee members about H.F. 253 (Tillberry)/S.F. 7 (Betzold).

Additional information about inhumane dog and cat breeding as well as this bill and other related legislation is posted at

Note: H. F. = House File; S.F. = Senate File. House Representatives vote on House files only; Senators vote on Senate files only.

H.F. 253 (Tillberry)/S.F. 7 (Betzold), the Minnesota Puppy and Kitten Mill Bill, protects dogs, cats, puppies and kittens from unscrupulous breeders by giving the State of Minnesota the authority to regulate the dog and cat breeding industry.

The bill is a collaborative effort, incorporating input and has support from many rescue groups, humane societies, humane agents, veterinarians, law enforcement, animal control, animal welfare organizations and citizens across the State.

The following are key highlights of H.F. 253 (Tillberry)/S.F. 7 (Betzold):

· The Core Problem—Minnesota is among the top producers of puppies in the United States. As there are no State laws regulating this multi-million dollar industry, unscrupulous breeders profit through inhumane treatment of animals. H.F. 253/S.F. 7 is clearly written to address the core problem - inhumane breeding conditions and practices found in dog and cat breeding facilities.

· Licensing—H.F. 253/S.F. 7 requires dog and cat breeders to be licensed in Minnesota. A breeder is defined [see bill for exact language] as a person who breeds for the purpose of sale and possesses six or more adult intact female animals for the purpose of breeding. Small and hobby breeders are exempt.

· Inspections—H.F. 253/S.F. 7 gives the State of Minnesota the authority to conduct annual inspections of dog and cat breeding facilities. It does not place the burden on local governments (but the State can contract with local authorities).

· Enforcement—H.F. 253/S.F. 7 gives the State of Minnesota the authority to enforce existing laws and regulations through clearly defined actions. The bill also provides for investigations and seizure of animals when the health or welfare of the animals is threatened.

· Standards—H.F. 253/S.F. 7 puts in place additional standards that are lacking in existing law, such as adequate staff, daily socialization, identification and tracking of each animal, and not hiring anyone who has been convicted of animal cruelty.

· Funding—H.F. 253/S.F. 7 provides funding to the Board of Animal Health (B.A.H.) through annual licensing fees. It also provides a one-time registration fee giving the B.A.H. funds in order to start up the program.

· Penalties—H.F. 253/S.F. 7 imposes civil, administrative and criminal penalties for breaking the law; this includes fines as well as misdemeanor penalties for falsifying information and knowingly trading or selling animals from breeders/dealers without a license.

H.F. 253 (Tillberry) /S.F. 7 (Betzold) is a responsible bill because it addresses the core problem, works hand-in-hand with existing Minnesota anti-cruelty laws, and has strong support by a large coalition from across the State. This issue is about human responsibility - requiring breeders to act responsibly and humanely.

It is time for Minnesota to take action. Over 25 states have passed similar bills and many other states have introduced bills this year in their legislatures.


To link to H.F. 253 (Tillberry)/S.F. 7 (Betzold), click here

View videos and photos and learn more about inhumane dog and cat breeding at the Animal Folks Minnesota website.
Never spoken with a legislator before? Click here.

Why Rep. Juhnke's bill (H.F. 573) / Sen. Erickson Ropes' bill (S.F. 500) is weaker
While H.F. 573/S.F. 500 has some good points, we oppose it for a variety of reasons. Our primary concerns are as follows:

Some of the language in the bill does not work with Minnesota's existing animal welfare statutes.
The bill also introduces new terms and some detrimental requirements, which will cause confusion.
In certain areas, the bill does not give proper direction to the Board of Animal Health.
The bill requires that all breeders comply with USDA regulations, not just those who sell to pet shops.
As indicated in the last alert, the bill does not cover any breeder with under 40 breeding animals -- 40 breeding animals (with litters from each) translates to over 400 animals per kennel. (S.F. 7-Betzold/H.F. 253-Tillberry licenses 6 intact females.)
Rep. Juhnke's bill would also exempt (from the count of the 40 breeding animals) puppies and kittens who are under 9 months of age. This detail, among others, is important because those animals, too, are of breeding age, further increasing the number of animals exempted from any oversight.

For those of us who have been on the front lines and seen animal neglect and abuse in dog and cat breeding facilities, inhumane breeding practices and conditions occur in facilities of all sizes. Exempting huge numbers of breeders from any regulation goes against the intent of animal protection; reputable breeders understand this position.

H.F. 253 (Tillberry)/S.F. 7(Betzold) is a strong and responsible bill. We oppose H.F. 573 (Juhnke)/S.F. 500 (Erickson Ropes).

Why Sen. Dille's bill (S.F. 201) is weaker
During the Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on January 27, Senator Dille's bill (S.F. 201) was heard. A House version of S.F. 201 will also be heard in the House Public Safety Policy and Oversight Committee when the hearing is granted. We will let you know when there is a House bill number.

Our primary concerns with S.F. 201:

The bill is a registration-only bill. Similar to feedlots, dog and cat breeders would not be licensed annually but instead would only be registered once every four years.
The bill covers breeders with 20 or more intact breeding females; as with S.F. 500/H.F. 573, this reduces the number of animals to be protected.
The bill requires inspections to be complaint-based, which is the current system. Rather than annual inspections, a Good Samaritan would have to file a complaint before authorities could enter the property.
The bill takes "humane agents" out of the language for inspections and enforcement and inserts "feedlot inspectors."
Regarding animal seizure, the bill only allows the "affected" animals to be seized.

We oppose S.F. 201.


Not sure of your district or who represents you?
To find out who represents you, click here. You will be directed to the District Finder on the Minnesota State Legislature website. This is particularly important when it comes to committee members; you'll want to know if your own legislator is on one of the committees hearing the bill.

Got a response? Please tell us.
For everyone who forwarded responses from their legislators to us, thank you. It helps with lobbying efforts - understanding which legislators need to be better informed. Please email if you hear additional comments or concerns (support or oppose) from legislators.

Authors and co-authors
Representative Tom Tillberry is the author of H.F. 253 and Senator Betzold is the author of S.F. 7. Other legislators can choose to be co-authors, publicly supporting a bill. As of this date, there are 2 co-authors for S.F. 7 and 10 co-authors for H.F. 253. To review names, click here. If your legislator is an author or co-author, please still contact them and thank them for their support. They need to hear from you (their constituent) and that you appreciate their efforts.

Animal Advocates
Animal Humane Society

Thank you for being a voice for animals.

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