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February 24, 2010

Minnesotans Call on Lawmakers to Protect Animals

Citizens from across Minnesota will meet with lawmakers Wednesday to urge them to protect animals as part of Humane Lobby Day. The event is organized by The Humane Society of the United States to connect citizen lobbyists with lawmakers to support and encourage animal welfare legislation. Sen. Don Betzold, D-51, the sponsor of S.F. 7, the Dog and Cat Breeder bill, and Rep. Michael Paymar, D-64, the sponsor H.F. 1396, the Inclusion of Pets and Companion Animals in Protective Orders bill, will attend to speak about the much needed legislation.

Participants will encourage lawmakers to pass legislation to protect Minnesota's animals. Citizen lobbyists will urge the introduction of legislation to strengthen protections for dogs and kittens at abusive puppy and kitten mills, to allow pets to be included in domestic violence protective orders, and to make possession of any animal fighting paraphernalia illegal.

"This is basic legislation for the welfare of our state's pets," said Howard Goldman, The HSUS' Minnesota state director. "Humane Lobby Day is a wonderful opportunity for citizens to speak out on behalf of the animals, and a great way to develop relationships with elected officials. Our members are excited to be engaged in the process and believe that animal protection is part of good government."

Puppy and Kitten Mills

Puppy and kitten mills are factory-style breeding facilities that mass produce animals for sale in pet stores, over the Internet and directly to consumers. Puppy and kitten mills commonly house animals in overcrowded, filthy and inhumane conditions with inadequate shelter and care.

These operations can range in size from several dozen dogs to hundreds of dogs and cats, often stacked in wire cages, without exercise, socialization, or human companionship. Cracking down on puppy mills protects both puppies and people. Stronger legislation, such as the proposed S.F. 7 and H.F. 253,  can prevent cruel treatment of dogs and help ensure that families aren't duped into buying a puppy that will bring them heartbreak and financial woes.

Pets and Domestic Violence

New bills (S.F. 838 and H.F. 1396) will include pets in court-ordered restraining orders and help to protect family pets from the abuser. There is a growing body of research that establishes the link between domestic violence and animal abuse. Many victims of domestic violence will not seek protection or leave the abusive relationship because they fear for the safety of their pets. 

Animal Fighting

New legislation (S.F. 800; H.F. 728) will make possession of any device or substance that enhances an animal's ability to fight illegal, which will give law enforcement another important tool to crack down on animal fighting.

  • Dogfighting is a highly organized criminal industry; more than 250,000 dogs are placed in dog fighting pits each year. A Chicago Police Department study showed that 65 percent of people charged with animal abuse crimes — including dogfighting — were also charged with violent crimes against people.
  • Cockfighting - Common cockfighting practices include breeding birds for viciousness, drugging them to heighten aggression and fitting their legs with razor-sharp knives or gaffs resembling ice picks. Law enforcement raids across the country have revealed that cockfights, which are frequently attended by children, involve illegal gambling and — as a result of the large amount of cash present — firearms and other weapons are also often present. Law enforcement officials have documented a strong connection between cockfighting and the distribution of illegal drugs.

Last year, state legislatures across the country passed 121 new laws for animals. The HSUS works with animal advocates and state legislators across the country to enact laws protecting animals from cruelty, combating animal fighting, halting wildlife abuse and more.

Find out more about Minnesota's Humane Lobby Day.

Click on the following to learn more about puppy mills and animal fighting.

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Follow The Humane Society of the United States on Twitter.

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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