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Loosening of animal control laws

Published (4/29/2011)
By Sue Hegarty
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An animal control bill seeks to loosen the leash on local governments that are currently required to follow state mandates when they encounter stray or dangerous dogs and cats, including large cats such as tigers.

By changing “shall” to “may” in statute, HF516 would make several requirements optional for local animal control agencies.

Several provisions also would be repealed. For example, agencies would no longer be required to keep impounded animals up to six days before being allowed to sell them to a new owner. Also, the former owner would not have at least two months to claim the pet from the new owner.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Bruce Vogel (R-Willmar), said this puts more responsibility on pet owners to keep track of their pets. The bill was laid over April 26 by the House Agriculture and Rural Development Policy and Finance Committee for more deliberation. There is no Senate companion.

Tom Mahan, president of the Minnesota Animal Control Association and animal control officer for the New Hope Police Department, said the state shouldn’t count on cities and counties to pass their own ordinances. He said current state law is an effective tool to regulate dangerous dogs and to track them when their owners move from one jurisdiction to another.

One of the provisions would drop the requirement that local authorities annually report information about dangerous animals to the Board of Animal Health. Greta Gauthier, board liaison, said calls are received from residents each year about the presence of animals deemed “potentially dangerous” or “dangerous” by the authorities.

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