Minnesota bill pushes for pet adoptions, would ban dog and cat sales from commercial breeders at pet stores

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A new bipartisan bill that would promote pet adoptions was introduced in the Minnesota Legislature this week.

The legislation, co-sponsored by Sen. Karla Bigham, DFL-Cottage Grove, and Rep. Carlie Kotyza-Witthuhn, DFL-Eden Prairie, would ban pet stores from selling dogs and cats from commercial breeders.

Lisa Schugel was looking to adopt a dog Thursday at the Golden Valley Animal Humane Society with her husband, Randy Schugel.

“We searched today between Coon Rapids and here. Actually we've been back here twice, we were really hoping to bring a dog home today,” she said.

With so many dogs waiting for forever homes, some who are waiting to rescue dogs from the Animal Humane Society don't understand how anyone could buy one from a store.

“All [commercial breeders] worry about is making their money. They’re not worried about the dog's health,” said Randy Schugel, who lives in Savage. 

That's partially the reason behind a new bill proposed, which would ban Minnesota pet shops from selling dogs and cats supplied by commercial breeders. If it passes, pet stores would only be allowed to host adoption events with animal shelters and rescue organizations.

“People that buy some of these animals are from some of the breeders, sometimes the animals are sick, they are costly — it's heartbreaking,” said Kathy Mock, chief government affairs officer for the Animal Humane Society.

Tempe was one of those dogs. 

“She definitely seemed a little traumatized,” said David Stein, who rescued Tempe with his fiancée about a year ago from a commercial breeder — otherwise referred to as a "puppy mill." 

“Any time you made any sudden movements towards her, she would cower in fear or she would go in the bathroom, even if you weren't close to her,” Stein said.

He said he wholeheartedly supports the new bill, calling it a “no-brainer.” 

“It gives you a little bit more pride knowing you're saving these dogs and you're their last chance to get them away from a terrible life that they had prior to you,” said Stein. 

The bill would not prevent individuals from going directly to breeders.

“All breeders aren't bad — I mean there are certainly good breeders. Good breeders don't sell to pet stores, they interact directly with consumers,” Mock said. 

If the bill passes, any pet shops will be subject to a civil fine of $1,000 for every violation.

Three states — Maryland, California and Maine — and more than 340 local jurisdictions across the United States — which include Roseville, Eden Prairie and St. Paul — have passed similar humane pet store laws.