ST. PAUL, Minn. - A rally is planned Tuesday at the State Capitol to call for regulation in Minnesota's dog and cat breeding industry.
Currently, Minnesota doesn't have a law to license, inspect, and regulate dog and cat breeders.
State Representative John Lesch, Saint Paul, District 66B, says he's been working on a measure to shine a light on the hidden industry for the past six years, and his latest legislation, House File 84/Senate File 36, focuses on inspections to pinpoint "bad operations."
"We have no idea how many of these operations are out there, how many are legal, how many would pass muster for being clean and safe if they were to be inspected," said Lesch.
The bill aims to license, inspect and regulate dog breeders that have 10 or more animals or produce more than five litters for profit each year.
Deb Ouellette is part of Animal Folks MN, a group supporting the measure. She is organizing the Tuesday's rally, at 3pm in the Rotunda, called Speak Up for Minnesota Dogs and Cats.
"Because there is so little awareness, that is why we need the legislation, and education," said Ouellette.
It's a measure close to her heart. She rescued two dogs from large commercial breeders.
"Most breeders are truly reputable. We are going after the ones that are not, that treat their breeding animals inhumanely, George is a good example," she said, petting her Springer Spaniel.
"When we first got him he was afraid to walk on grass, he has no socialization whatsoever. He has what we call kennel crazy, he circles, he spins, and this all comes from living in a small cage with no socialization. This is heartbreaking to see the conditions these animals live in, it's not necessary," she said.
The law would apply to Nona Dietrich, a Twin Cities woman who breeds Havanese and Russian Toy dogs, but she says her hobby breeding isn't an operation. It's part of her home.
"I love them, that is a difference between me and a commercial breeder. I don't breed dogs for money, I do it as a passion," said Dietrich.
Dietrich questions how the law will be funded and enforced. She also believes it's redundant, as she is already regulated by her west metro city and says breeders who register dogs with the AKC and are subject to complaints are then investigated.
"If were to meet the standards of a commercial breeder, I would have to cement my floor, I would have to sterilize the beds they sleep in, in my bedroom, " said Dietrich. "Here is what I think what will happen to many people, they will quit and commercial breeders will do more."
Representative Lesch says details will be discussed further in a public safety committee this week, but he added that Governor Dayton - a dog owner and dog lover - has stated a willingness to go to bat for the bill.
Read more about the Speak Up for Minnesota Cats and Dogs Rally on Tuesday: http://animalfolksmn.org/
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