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Forum News Service, Published February 13 2013

Minnesota Legislature considers crackdown on pet mills

ST. PAUL – Animals rescued from so-called puppy mills are often sick, starving and dirty, but groups such as the Animal Humane Society cannot enter those sites until a complaint is lodged about the conditions.

“By that time, it’s typically too late,” Keith Streff, Animal Humane Society humane agent, told the Minnesota House civil law committee Wednesday.

He said inspections could curb issues before the situation gets worse. That is the aim of a bill by state Rep. John Lesch, DFL-St. Paul, that would require breeders to get state licenses and be subject to inspections.

The state does not license breeders.

Streff said seizing animals after discovering a dangerous site can be costly and time-consuming. He added that those going into problem facilities have sometimes had to wear hazardous material suits because of the conditions, such as high amounts of built-up urine and feces. Veterinarian Lisa McCargar said the animals that come from those areas often are afraid or aggressive, starving and carrying diseases.

Gov. Mark Dayton did not know about specific bills, but said he supports doing away with puppy mills.

Time ran down on Wednesday’s meeting with members of the public waiting to speak, but Lesch said many of the concerns will continue to be addressed as the bill moves through the Legislature. It was approved by the committee and its next stop is the House public safety committee. A similar bill in the Senate has not yet been discussed in committees this year.