moratorium on kennels still on the table | New

by CHRIS ROGERS

Winona County Council is considering stricter regulations for commercial dog breeding kennels, possibly including a temporary moratorium on any new kennels. At the same time, board members seemed to agree on a solution to one of their main concerns: ensuring dog breeders receive the required state and federal licenses.

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health (BAH) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) are responsible for regulating commercial pet breeders. Breeders over a certain size must be licensed and inspected regularly and are subject to many rules on the care, treatment and housing of dogs. County staff insisted the county should leave animal welfare regulations to the state. Checking that dogs are spending enough time outdoors, for example, requires in-person inspections, which BAH and USDA are already doing and the county just doesn’t have the staff to handle, county officials

to say.

However, citizens protesting a series of commercial dog breeding kennel permits approved in 2016 and 2017 labeled Winona County “the puppy mill capital of Minnesota,” have raised concerns about violations of state rules and federal governments, and lobbied the board of directors to ban kennels or adopt more stringent local animal welfare regulations. Years have passed without any new livestock operations, but a recent permit application has rekindled the debate.

In August, the county council voted 3-2 to deny a license for a kennel for up to 20 dogs outside of Lewiston. County board members Chris Meyer, Greg Olson and Marie Kovecsi wondered if an existing kennel on the same property needed a state license; the owners said he was below the state licensing threshold. Regardless, the episode prompted some county council members to urge the county to verify that BAH and USDA licensing requirements are met and to raise the prospect of a moratorium and new local regulations on kennels.

“Although [complying with state and federal law] is a condition, we never check the conditions, ”Olson said at the time. “I think what we saw today showed a lot of flaws in the CUP process for dog breeding,” he continued. “Maybe while we are talking we could have a moratorium, just to fix the problem.”

The county council resumed discussion on September 14, when Kovecsi advocated for the county to get involved in regulating animal welfare in kennels, not just land use and zoning issues. . “I think it comes in our realm to be concerned about their welfare, while they’re being raised, before they’re sold, because they’re sold as pets, and they’re meant to be animals. companion, with a pet temperament, pet socialization, ”she said. our land use, “Kovecsi continued. She and Olson said they would support a moratorium on new kennels while new rules were developed.

“Going into the specifics of animal health and welfare… I would respectfully request that we don’t do this because it’s already done,” responded Kay Qualley, County Environmental Services and Planning Manager. by Winona, referring to BAH and USDA.

County board member Marcia Ward agreed, saying “micromanagement” kennels, in addition to state regulations, were not worth spending the county’s limited resources. “You can probably take any city block from Winona, and there will be more [pets] per block that some of these dog breeders are raising, ”she argued.

Olson argued for a more modest approach: verify that BAH and USDA licenses are received. The county already requires kennels to comply with federal and state laws, but it does nothing to verify if they obtain BAH and USDA licenses. “I think if we issue a permit, we have a responsibility to verify that these conditions are met,” Olson said.

Qualley noted that such a check should take place after a permit is issued, as county permits are required to build a kennel, while breeders must have their kennels built and inspected before they can receive a license from. State. However, the county could require kennel operators to send the county a copy of state and federal licenses when they receive them, she said. The entire county board seemed to support the idea.

Although they have come to an agreement on this, the county council plans to discuss the kennels again in October, and Olson said a moratorium is still possible. Olson and Meyer have asked county staff to present information on how other counties regulate kennels and whether Winona County is more lax than its neighbors.

Wabasha, Olmsted, Houston, and Fillmore counties do not have any rule specifically regarding kennels in their zoning ordinances, and in Fillmore County, kennels do not require special permits.

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