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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn (DFL)

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Rep. Kotyza-Witthuhn to introduce legislation to prevent the pet store sale of dogs and cats from puppy and kitten mills

Friday, February 14, 2020

St. Paul, MN – State Representative Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn (DFL – Eden Prairie) will be introducing bipartisan legislation this session to prevent the pet store sale of dogs and cats from puppy and kitten mills. State Senator Karla Bingham (DFL – Cottage Grove) will be authoring the legislation in the Senate. Minnesota could be the next state to adopt this humane policy that prohibits the pet store sale of dogs and cats while allowing stores to host adoption events with animal shelters and rescues.

“This bill will move the pet market toward more humane sources like shelters, rescues and responsible breeders, and address known problems by stopping the sale of puppy mill puppies in stores,” said Representative Kotyza-Witthuhn. “Our rescue labradoodle loves to explore parks and walking trails throughout Eden Prairie, where our city council has made us a leader on this important issue. Most pet stores in Minnesota thrive without selling dogs and cats. They profit from selling products and services and many also host adoption events with local shelters and rescues to give back to their communities.”

It is documented that puppy mills (inhumane commercial breeding facilities that disregard the well-being of dogs for profit) supply Minnesota pet stores with puppies. A humane pet store bill reduces the demand for puppy mill puppies.

The bill will protect consumers. Consumers often spend thousands of dollars caring for sick pet store puppies who were born in puppy mills, in some cases only to suffer the heartbreak of their new pet dying. Many pet store puppies also have behavioral issues and struggle to transition from life in a cage to life in a family. This legislation only impacts puppies, kittens, dogs and cats. No other types of animals are included. There are no impacts on agriculture.

This bill promotes pet adoption and does not impact responsible breeders. Pet stores that host adoption events save lives and bring homeless pets to a retail setting where consumers might not otherwise be exposed to them. For those who wish to buy a puppy, consumers will still be able to seek out a responsible breeder whom they can meet in person. Responsible breeders never sell to pet stores because they only sell directly to the public, so they wouldn’t be negatively impacted by this bill. 

This legislation also addresses a public health risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns consumers about the risks of pet store puppies. In 2017-18, over one hundred Americans were sickened with an antibiotic-resistant strain of Campylobacter causing dozens to be hospitalized. In its final report of the outbreak, the CDC stated that 95% of pet store puppies received antibiotics at, or before arriving at, a pet store. This indicates overuse of these drugs and that pet stores know their puppies are likely to be sick. 

The bill is business friendly. The vast majority of pet stores in Minnesota are already in compliance with this legislation because they already do not sell puppies or kittens. There are fewer than ten pet stores in Minnesota that sell dogs and cats, yet more than 130 do not sell dogs or cats. This legislation will close a gap in current law. Minnesota does not inspect the source of all pet store puppies nor conditions within pet stores. Federal regulation of commercial breeders is minimal and enforcement is lacking. As one example, under federal law commercial breeders can legally confine dogs to cages only 6 inches larger than themselves for their entire lives.

Three states (MD, CA, ME) and over 340 local jurisdictions across the United States- including Roseville, Eden Prairie, and St. Paul, MN- have passed similar humane pet store laws.