The Minnesota Legislature has sent two bills that will help make the state a more welcome place for people and their pets to the desk of Gov. Tim Walz. The first provision, sponsored by Rep. María Isa Pérez-Vega, DFL–St. Paul, and Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL–Minneapolis, prohibits landlords from requiring a tenant declaw or devocalize their pet as a condition of tenancy and has already been signed by the governor. The second provision, sponsored by Rep. Liz Reyer, DFL–Eagan, and Sen. Bobby Joe Champion, DFL–Minneapolis, makes homeowner’s insurance more attainable for people who own dogs who are unjustly discriminated against based on their breed.
“The issue of pets and housing is broadly popular among the public and legislators. As more and more Minnesotans search for safe, affordable and accessible housing for their families, that includes their beloved pets,” said Zack Eichten, Minnesota state director for the Humane Society of the United States. “I am thrilled that legislators took decisive action this year to make Minnesota a more welcome place for companion animals. We are looking forward to addressing more housing needs that face Minnesotans and their pets in the future and building on the successes of the 2023 session."
Declawing is the amputation of the last bone of each toe on a cat. Devocalization is the surgical removal of a pet’s vocal cords. Requiring declawing or debarking as a condition of tenancy is an extreme response to a problem that hasn’t presented—the cat or dog hasn’t even stepped into the apartment before such conditions are imposed. The decision to declaw or devocalize a pet should be made only to address an existing medical condition and in consultation with a veterinarian. This law will protect renters from having to decide between obtaining housing and causing permanent harm to their beloved pets.
Experts agree that the best predictor of a dog’s behavior comes from an evaluation of individual adult dogs—not breed. Published studies consistently show that breed has no effect on a dog’s propensity to bite. Instead, these studies conclude that the predictive factors of whether a dog is dangerous or potentially dangerous include whether the dog is socialized, altered and receiving veterinary care.
The passage of this legislation will help ensure that the insurance industry uses objective facts to determine whether an individual dog poses a risk, and that pet-owning consumers will no longer be left underinsured or forced to relinquish their family dog in pursuit of homeowner or renters’ insurance.
“Breed-based policies have a discriminatory effect and do not reflect the values of our state,” said Eichten.