|legislation > governance
Minnesota is a strong agricultural state (animal and crop production). As such, the governing ‘system’ for overseeing animals was originally structured to respond to agricultural needs. Many animals were and are viewed as livestock, and the mission of many State agencies focus on public health concerns, disease eradication (i.e., rabies, e coli) and the need for a wholesome food source.
Minnesota is also a strong steward of wildlife, as well as being a hunting and fishing State. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) governs wildlife issues, which has been controversial with various animal concerns (i.e., wolf hunt).
The governance for companion animals, such as dogs and cats, however, is still in its infancy. The governing bodies, processes, laws and enforcement of laws at federal, state and local levels for companion animals are minimal or non-existent.
Who is responsible for the protection of Minnesota animals?
There is no State agency in Minnesota responsible for overseeing or regulating the dog and cat breeding industry, or care and welfare of pets.
The Minnesota Board of Animal Health (B.A.H.) is responsible for safeguarding the health of domestic animals in Minnesota; and the State Veterinarian is the executive director of this agency. Because there is no State law regulating the dog and cat breeding industry, however, the B.A.H. is not authorized to license breeders, inspect facilities, or enforce standards or impose penalties. This agency does not accept complaints from citizens about animal suffering or cruelty; nor do they track animal sales, animal neglect and cruelty acts or legal measures, if any, taken by the courts. Any pet leaving the State (for longer than 30 days) must acquire a certificate of health from a veterinarian; these certificates are filed with the B.A.H.. These documents, however, are not used to monitor animal flow, sales or health.
Oversight for companion animals in Minnesota primarily falls to local governments, if they choose to accept the responsibility. For the most part, local nonprofit animal organizations (all privately financed) and volunteers have been the main advocates for the protection and care of animals.
Law enforcement and the Courts are also involved when laws are broken.
Whether elected, appointed or hired, different people play critical roles in how animals are viewed and treated in Minnesota.
• Minnesota House and Senate
• Minnesota Governor
• Minnesota Board of Animal Health (B.A.H.)
• Minnesota Department of Agriculture (M.D.A.)
• Local: Counties and municipalities
• Nonprofit animal organizations