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May 17, 2010

The HSUS Praises Minn. Lawmakers for Combating Animal Fighting, Protecting Pets and American Horses

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Humane Society of the United States applauds Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the state legislature for enacting bills to protect animals caught in the middle of domestic disputes and to criminalize drugs and implements used to enhance the performance of dogs and birds in animal fighting.  

"These bills are a huge step forward for protecting animals in Minnesota, and we applaud state lawmakers for recognizing the importance of providing safety for the animals their constituents hold dear," said Howard Goldman, The HSUS' Minnesota senior state director. "Thanks to Governor Tim Pawlenty, Representative Joe Mullery, Senator Scott Dibble, Representative Michael Paymar and Senator Sandy Pappas, dogfighters and domestic violence assailants will no longer feel comfortable in Minnesota."

SF 838, introduced by Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, and HF 1396, introduced by Paymar, D-St. Paul, enables the court to order protection for pets in restraining orders, to protect animal companions 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. 

Paymar, DFL-St. Paul, said, "With this bill, victims of domestic violence will have additional protection from an abusive spouse. Victims will now be able to seek relief from abusers who threaten to harm pets as a means to control them. I was honored to carry this legislation in the House and am confident that this bill will help battered women and their pets remain free from violence."

HF 728, introduced by Mullery, DFL-Minneapolis, and SF  2990, introduced by Dibble, D-Minneapolis, and amended by Sen. Linda Scheid, DFL-Brooklyn Park, makes the possession of any device or substance that enhances an animal's ability to fight illegal. The bill was supported by The HSUS, State Humane Investigators, the Minnesota Animal Control Association, Minneapolis Animal Care and Control and local law enforcement. The new charge gives law enforcement another important tool to crack down on animal fighting.

Mullery said, "It was a great to work with The HSUS to lead this great advancement in stopping the horrible cruelty of dog and cockfighting."

Scheid added, "The problem with our current laws is that it is very unlikely to catch animal fighting as it is happening.  This bill provides a new tool for prosecutors to go after this criminal and inhumane activity."

Minnesota legislators considered SF 133, a resolution urging Congress to oppose the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act — HSUS-supported legislation that would prohibit the transport and slaughter of American horses for human consumption. After opposition from The HSUS and other animal advocates, the resolution failed to pass before the legislature adjourned. Rep. Steve Smith, R-Mound, the deputy minority leader in the House, showed great leadership in this effort.

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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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