Animal shelter bill divides activists

Animal shelters could become subject to a stricter set of requirements before they euthanize animals.

Rep. John Benson (DFL-Minnetonka) is the sponsor of the HF391, also known as the Minnesota Companion Animal Protection Act, which sparked debate Thursday in the House Agriculture Policy Committee. The committee laid the 10-page bill over for future action.

Advocates contend that animal shelters need to go to greater lengths to prevent animals in their care from being euthanized. Benson’s bill would require a five-day holding period for stray animals and a three-day holding period for animals that are relinquished by their owners.

The bill would also require that shelters maintain a registry of organizations that are willing to accept animals and not euthanize them if an organization is willing to take possession, with some exceptions. The bill spells out the options that must be exhausted before an animal is euthanized and dictates the sort of procedures that must be followed in the euthanasia process.

In support of the bill, Mike Fry, executive director of Animal Ark no-kill shelter in St. Paul, said places in other states like Austin, Texas, which have similar laws have seen a significant drop in euthanasia rates.

“I would argue there are a lot of reasons we need this bill,” Fry said. “It has not only passed in Austin, it has passed as policy in shelters throughout the United States and its saving lives everywhere.”

The Animal Humane Society strongly opposes the bill in its current form, arguing that it would hinder animal agencies from doing what’s best for the welfare of animals. Janelle Dixon, the society’s president and CEO, said the holding requirements for owner-relinquished animals could lead to overcrowding and the spread of disease. The bill might also result in the shelters turning over animals to disreputable people.

“We have situations through our investigations program,” Dixon said, “where organizations and individuals that represented themselves as rescues have been convicted of cruelty for hoarding animals in their basements. We don’t want to be in place where have to release animals to them.”

The bill’s Senate companion, SF1204, sponsored by Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Vernon Center), awaits a hearing in the Senate Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development Committee.

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  • "No-Kill" is expensive, has and will continue to bankrupt shelters and continually tap the wallets of taxpayers. That's why Delaware's is the only one to pass the "No-Kill" legislation called CAPA. As horrid as CAPA has been for DE, other states see how much worse it would be for larger states. Nearly every shelter in Delaware has run deficits since CAPA was implemented and a new Office of Animal Welfare was created at a cost of $600,000 to pay for employees to fix all the issues that CAPA created from shelters being afraid to pick up injured cats and being forced to take on the high costs of treating severe injuries to shelters no longer responding to livestock at large issues or cruelty . In fact, the first NK shelter to take on dog control in DE recently filed for bankruptcy. Their operation didn't even make it 2 years, and the US taxpayers will most likely eat a large chunk on their mortgage since it was financed by the USDA. And other communities were also reference like Austin. Below is the reality RENO/WASHOE And Nevada Humane can only continue to remain a viable entity for another 5-6 years based on the the losses they've sustained since the no-kill effort began. Washoe/NHS - Intake 15,000. 2005 Combined Expenses - $5,347,996. 2010 Combined Expenses - $7,816,195. Note - Nevada Humane has lost nearly $4.1 million since no-kill began. Nevada Humane $4.1 Million in Deficits Since No-Kill Effort Began 2006 2004 403,343.00 2005 2,168,793.00 2006 (1,000,367.00) 2007 (855,614.00) 2008 (237,365.00) 2009 (1,000,164.00) 2010 (293,971.00) 2011 (749,016.00) Austin Animal Services 2008-09 $ 5,397,428 2009-10 $ 6,008,659 2010-11 $ 6,883,679 2011-12 $ 7,612,186 2012-13 $ 8.2 million 2013-14 $ 8.9 million proposed ($714,000 increase) New Hampshire's statewide spay neuter program cost $300-350,000 a year in comparison, and they import dogs, while Austin has closed doors when they have overcrowded. - by J Jacob Carter on Sat, 03/01/2014 - 1:19am
  • Is there no way for animal agencies to do background checks on organizations that accept or foster companion animals with periodic inspections? The bill could also include penalties for anyone who takes one these pets and neglects or abuses them. - by Stephanie Fox on Fri, 02/28/2014 - 3:41pm

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