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May 28, 2009

Minn. Legislature Adjourns With Victories for Animals

The HSUS Calls for Continued Work on Held-Over Bills in 2010

The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States thanks Minnesota lawmakers for their work to protect animals in the 2009 legislative session. The Minnesota legislature adjourned at midnight on May 18 after passing several important provisions for animals. Other important humane legislation will be reconsidered during the 2010 session.

"The Humane Society of the United States commends Minnesota lawmakers for working to increase protection for pets and upholding protections for horses and wildlife," said Howard Goldman, The HSUS' senior Minnesota state director. "We call on the legislature to pass other important laws in the second half of the session, including cracking down on animal fighting, restoring the protections for mourning doves and establishing basic care standards for commercial dog breeders."

Advances for Wildlife and Pets

The HSUS applauds the legislature for prohibiting the import and export of live coyotes for wildlife penning. The state Department of Natural Resources urged the inclusion of this language in the Game and Fish omnibus bill. Wildlife pens are fenced enclosures where packs of dogs pursue and kill captive foxes and coyotes, often in competitions. Other language added to this omnibus bill would have expanded the inhumane and unsporting practice of bear baiting in Minnesota, and The HSUS successfully campaigned against the inclusion of this language in the final bill.

The legislature also  passed S.F. 122/ H.F. 1306 to require retailers to post warnings when selling cocoa-based mulch that can be poisonous to pets after a Minnesota dog died from eating cocoa bean mulch. Unfortunately, although the legislature sought to protect family pets from this potentially dangerous product, Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed this pet protection legislation.

Protections Upheld for Horses

Minnesota legislators considered a resolution asking the U.S. Congress to vote against important legislation, the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act, to stop the transport of thousands of American horses to Canada and Mexico to be slaughtered for human consumption abroad. After opposition from The HSUS and other animal advocates, the resolution, S.F. 133/ H.F. 840, failed to pass both houses before the legislature adjourned.

Additionally, dangerous language for horses was removed from the final version of the omnibus agriculture bill. This language could have reduced protection for horses under state cruelty statutes and paved the way to horses being slaughtered for food in Minnesota. 

Important Work Remains

Unfortunately, the legislature failed to act on several important pieces of animal protection legislation, but will have another opportunity to consider them in 2010. H.F. 1321/ S.F. 1710 would restore the longstanding ban on shooting mourning doves, songbirds who help farmers by eating weed seeds. S.F. 7/ H.F. 253 would provide additional protections for dogs by establishing basic care standards, licensing and inspections for commercial dog breeders. H.F. 728/ S.F. 800 would make it illegal to possess animal fighting paraphernalia. Although dogfighting and cockfighting are felony offenses in Minnesota, it is still legal to possess fighting implements such as knives attached to roosters' legs or "break sticks" used in dog fights.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org. 

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