|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?
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. However, the BAH's focus has been primarily with disease and livestock issues as it relates to food consumption. The BAH is also responsible for the import and export of animals to/from Minnesota.
The MN Board of Veterinary Medicine (BVM) licenses and oversees veterinarians in Minnesota. The BVM also takes action if a person conducts a veterinary act on an animal without a license.
Other state agencies, such as the Department of Agriculture, Department of Natural Resources, and others may get involved in animal cases depending on the species and the incident.
Oversight for animal cruelty issues in Minnesota primarily falls to local governments (i.e., sheriff, police, prosecutor, the courts).
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.
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