BREEDER BILL: Animal cruelty remedy or business bust? - KMSP-TV

BREEDER BILL: Animal cruelty remedy or business bust?

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

Most dog and cat breeders in the state of Minnesota play by the rules, but what about the ones that don't? After years of struggling to regulate the issues, lawmakers may be poised to answer that question.

In Minnesota, law enforcement on animal cruelty usually begins when someone complaints -- and sometimes, that's too late. Now, a bill that could see a floor vote as soon as next month would get the state involved sooner by regulating breeders with more than adult animals.

The images and stories of animal abuse are impossible to forget, especially travesties like the one seen in Pine County, where more than 100 malnourished animals -- including dogs, horses, chickens and ducks -- were seized last year.

MORE: All seized animals adopted after 'torture'

"We need this bill because, currently in Minnesota, we have a complaint-based system to address animal cruelty and it's been inadequate," Rep. John Lesch said.

For the past seven years, Lesch has been working to regulate large breeders -- and he says he's never been closer. His bill would license breeders and would require:

- Annual inspections

- Record keeping

- Minimum health protocols

The Board of Animal Health would oversee the licensing and enforce the standards; however, opponents of the bill say it goes too far and puts the state in between caregivers and their animals, possibly even requiring them to pet their dogs twice a day.

"I just don't believe the government should be instituting when someone has to perform a physical affection onto an animal or even another human being," Julie Gerdes, a dog breeder in Anoka County, told Fox 9 News.

Gerdes explained that her concern comes from the language that states animals must be provided "positive physical contact with human beings and compatible animals at least twice daily."

Others have criticized the bill as redundant, arguing that cities and counties already have similar regulations in place. Critics have also pointed out that the law would not apply to second-hand sellers, like rescues or animal hoarders -- only those in the business of breeding. Meanwhile, supporters say it's better than the status quo.

Yet, Lesch said in light of the fact that some people don't think the bill has gone far enough and others think it goes too far, he believes the bill strikes the right balance.

Penalties for violators could include a license revocation or a misdemeanor charge.

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