Wins and losses for Minnesota animals
How did dogs and cats, wildlife, and farm animals do in the 2011-2012 biennium? Below is a legislative wrap up detailing wins and losses for animal welfare legislation in our state. Want to you know how your legislators voted on bills affecting animals? Check out Minnesota Voters for Animal Protection’s Humane Scorecard 2011-2012!
Wins for Minnesota’s animals in 2011-2012
In some cases animal welfare prevailed because animal- friendly legislation passed, and sometimes because bills that would harm animals were defeated.
- Ag-gag SF 1118/HF 1369 MVAP position: Oppose Status: Died
Good news! With the adjournment of the Legislature on May 10, 2012, Minnesota’s ‘ag-gag’ bill has died. Strong opposition, from many sectors in Minnesota, contributed to the demise of this legislation. If passed, this bill would criminalize blowing the whistle on animal cruelty, food safety problems, or labor or environmental abuses inside puppy and kitten mills or factory farms by making it a crime to take video inside such facilities, or even for the news media to possess or distribute these images. Read more.
- Trapping SF 1820/ HF 2417 MVAP position: Oppose Status: Failed
Good news! A bill allowing trappers to check snares every three days failed to move out of committee. This bill aimed to extend the amount of time a trapper needs to check his snares, so that snares would not need to be checked for three days. In committee the DNR testified against this bill, citing the inhumaneness of leaving a potentially live animal caught in a snare for up to three days. Read more.
- Police dogs SF 121/HF 141 MVAP position: Support Status: Passed
Good news! The bill to increase protections for police dogs was signed into law in 2011. Inspired by Major, the Roseville police dog who was stabbed four times in the back and paralyzed, this bill increases penalties for injuring public safety dogs and requires restitution be paid by the convicted person. The bill was signed into law by Governor Dayton on 3/22/11. Read more.
- Pound seizure SF 705/HF 1098 MVAP position: Support Status: Passed
Good news! The bill to repeal pound seizure was included in the Omnibus Agriculture bill (HF 2398/SF 2061) and was signed into law by Governor Dayton in April, 2012. Pound seizure refers to the practice of obtaining lost or stray pets from animal shelters for use in research, testing, and education. Minnesota’s pound seizure law required publicly-funded animal shelters, such as city or county shelters, to surrender animals in their care to institutions that request them. Read more.
- Animal control mandates SF 159/HF 7,HF 516, HF 519 MVAP position: Oppose Status: Failed
Good news! Bills amending animal control mandates were introduced, had hearings, but did not pass in 2011 or 2012. These bills remove requirements for animal control/law enforcement to seize, impound, or restrain stray animals and to enforce dangerous dog provisions. In addition, HF 516 and HF 519 also remove requirement for local animal control authority to report what regulated animals (wild cats, bears, primates) are registered in their jurisdiction. If passed, these bills could have negative consequences for companion animals and for regulated exotic animals. Read more.
- Pet Lemon Law HF 1635 MVAP position: Oppose Status: Died
Good news! A bill amending the Pet Lemon Law did not advance in 2011 or 2012. The Pet Lemon Law, passed in 1992, is a consumer protection law that was created to regulate for-profit businesses, defined as pet shops, breeders and dealers of dogs and cats. This bill would have amended the current Pet Lemon Law by including nonprofit humane societies and rescue groups under this law and defining them as “pet dealers”. At the same time nonprofits are not often able to recoup the vet expenses put into the stray, neglected, or seized animals they receive, this bill would cause humane societies and rescue groups that are helping Minnesota’s communities to incur additional expenses. Read more.
Sometimes animals lost because harmful bills passed into law, and sometimes because good bills did not pass.
- Coyote and beaver bounties SF 440/HF 621 MVAP position: Oppose Status: Passed
The Special Session Environment bill (Chapter 2), passed in July 2011, unfortunately includes provisions for bounties on coyotes and beavers. Bounties on coyotes were proposed as a solution to the problem of depredation of livestock, and bounties on beavers were proposed as a solution to the problem of beaver dam flooding. There are two interrelated problems with bounties and they have not been proven to solve the problems they propose to fix: bounties are not selective and the animal that is killed may or may not have been the offending animal, and bounties offer taxpayer-funded monetary rewards, which may encourage abuses. Read more.
- Dog and cat breeder regulation SF 462/HF 702 MVAP position: Support Status: Died
The Dog and Cat Breeder Regulation Bill was introduced in 2011. Unfortunately, the Minnesota Legislature adjourned for the 2011-2012 legislative session without taking action on dog and cat breeder regulation. Minnesota has no state laws, rules, licensing or regulations to address the care of cats and dogs in commercial breeding facilities. This bill would have provided basic licensing and regulation for this industry. Read more.
- Wolf hunting and trapping season HF 2171 MVAP position: Oppose Status: Passed
With the passage of the omnibus game and fish bill, a public hunting and trapping season of Minnesota’s gray wolves in fall and winter 2012 has been authorized. The original Wolf Management Plan, which was developed over many years with input from multiple stakeholders, including environmental organizations, contained a clause that authorized the DNR to consider hunting and trapping seasons no sooner than five years after wolves were removed from the federal Endangered Species List (they were removed in Dec, 2011). Unfortunately that five year moratorium was not honored by the Legislature and the DNR is moving forward with a season in 2012. Read more.
- Factory farms Special Session Environment bill (Chapter 2) MVAP position: Oppose Status: Passed
Unfortunately, new language passed during the special session in July 2011 has eased environmental regulations for some factory farms in Minnesota. Until recently, Minnesota has had higher standards than minimal federal Environment Protection Act standards for the largest factory farms. State law required that factory farms over 1,000 animal units get a Clean Water Act National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The new language lowers state standards for factory farms over 1,000 animal units by removing our state’s requirement that they get a Clean Water Act discharge permit. Instead, the bill requires our state follow weaker federal standards that do not require this permit. Read more.
- Dogs killed in traps SF 1736/HF 2243 MVAP position: Support Status: Failed
Pressure from people whose dogs have been killed accidentally in traps on public lands led to the introduction of a bill that restricts certain body-gripping traps, such that traps must be placed 5 feet above the ground and in a manner that protects domestic dogs. The bill did not advance out of committee, but was offered as an amendment on the floor of the Senate and the House during the debate on the omnibus game and fish bill. Unfortunately both amendments failed. Read more.
- Antifreeze poisoning SF 2232/HF 2599 MVAP position: Support Status: Failed
The sweet taste of antifreeze attracts animals, but less than a teaspoonful can be fatal. The bill to require a bittering agent be added to antifreeze to protect against accidental poisoning was introduced in 2012 but did not pass. Its main author in the Senate, Senator Sieben, offered it as an amendment to the omnibus game and fish bill, but unfortunately the amendment was ruled non-germane. Read more.
- Antibiotics in animal feed SF 1951 and HF 3006 MVAP position: Support Status: Died
Two bills were introduced in 2012 that would have prohibited the use of nontherapeutic, medically important antibiotics in animal feed. Unfortunately neither bill advanced. The growing threat of antibiotic resistance in humans is almost entirely attributed to routine inclusion of antibiotics in animal feed. This subtherapeutic use of antibiotics is used to keep animals on industrial farms in intensive and crowded conditions as well as to promote the animals’ rate of growth. Nontherapeutic use of antibiotics in animal feed contributes to potential harm for humans and unnecessary animal suffering. Read more.
Legislative reports by year: