By Lindsey Seavert, WCCO-TV

ST. PAUL (WCCO) — A new bill just introduced in the Minnesota House will once again attempt to regulate Minnesota puppy mills after several failed efforts in past years.

Backers say Minnesota has an estimated 300 puppy mills, and say our state has become a magnet for the puppy mill industry.

“The ones I have visited, virtually none of them are in compliance with state law now,” said Mike Fry, the executive director of the Animal Ark, a no-kill animal welfare organization based in the Twin Cities.

Fry says his organization has been pushing for a puppy mill bill for five years in a row, only to be met by agricultural opponents at the State Capitol.

“The inhumane conditions are enough to cause you to have nightmares,” said Fry, who cites a loophole between federal and state law. “A breeder can have a USDA license but be violating Minnesota state cruelty laws and can continue operating.”

Animal Ark is just one organization that’s been rallying lawmakers for change when it comes to large commercial dog and cat breeders.

Fry cites Otter Tail County dog breeder Kathy Bauck as the poster child for the necessity of such regulation. Back in 2008, Bauck was sentenced to 20 days in jail and lost her license after being found guilty of animal abuse.

This year, advocates are holding hope in a new measure, House File 388, to which they’ve devoted a Facebook page.

DFL Representative John Benson, with District 43B, just introduced the bill, which he says is long overdue, with a lack of USDA authority when it comes to the lack of care in these operations.

“There is a huge loophole in this whole process. We check to see of cattle breeders their animals are healthy, but apparently not our pets,” said Benson. “I think it solves a big program, the growth of puppy mills in the northern part of the state.”

He says the bill is a consensus bill from many groups that would level the playing field for legitimate breeders.

The measure would ask breeders to register with the state and pay a small fee of two to three dollars per animal sold.

Under the proposal, the Animal Board of Health would be the regulating agency, conducting yearly inspections, mandating vet checks as well as adequate housing, staffing and food.

Backers of the puppy mill bill say historically the measure has been opposed by groups worried about big government. In the past that’s included farm unions, agricultural groups like the Minnesota Hog Producers, and even the NRA.

Benson says the same opposition is surfacing once again, with pressure on rural legislators.

“I grew up on a dairy farm, so I understand rural concerns,” said Benson. “This is nothing anyone should fear. The only way this is going to have a chance the public get involved, people who have adopted rescues, they understand this ought to be done.”

Supporters also say the money to start up the regulation at the Board of Animal Health would be offered solely from private companies, adding that the measure would generate revenue by bringing commercial breeders into compliance with Minnesota sales tax laws.

“We’re asking they come up to the minimum standards of Minnesota animal cruelty laws, and if they can’t comply with those, they shouldn’t be operating business is the state of Minnesota,” said Fry, who adds that his organization is licensed and inspected by the state when large breeders are not.

A companion bill to House File 388 is expected to be introduced in the Minnesota Senate. Rep. Benson will request a hearing before the House agricultural committee.

Comments (58)
  1. Dale Peterson says:

    That’s the farm lobby and state legislators from SE Minnesota representing farmers who are polluting the heck out of the Minnesota river so they can profit from growing corn and soy beans for SE Asia. It must be nice to live without a conscience.

    1. Farmer says:

      Why can’t we raise dogs like we do turkeys and hogs? It’s efficient. Why should we differentiate between different animals?

      1. C Nablus says:


      2. Ignorance must be bliss says:

        If you are raising “turkeys and hogs” like they do in puppy mills then maybe someone should come to the farm and check you out as this is cruel and should not be done. Farm animals give their lives so that we can eat them and they do deserve some respectful treatment for that. Dogs are not an animal we eat, they are companions and many times considered to be part of the family, therefore they should not have this kind of treatment as no animal should. If you can look at the types of abuse these animals go through and say that everything is alright you have NO business being around animals let alone raising them.

      3. Farmer says:

        They eat dogs in other countries.

      4. Ignorance must be bliss says:

        Are we talking about other countries? How about you contribute things to the discussion that are not idiotic. As you should be able to tell by the other posts you are not in the majority of people in this country that think that abusing animals is ok and a daily part of life and should probably keep your twisted ideas to yourself. A saying comes to mind, it is better to be thought of as an idiot than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

      5. Farmer says:

        It would be real easy to eliminate puppy mills. Dog Lovers need to stop buying these much-sought-after “purebreads” and adopt dogs from shelters and the humane society. It’s just like the drug trade, the dealers would be out of business if their clients stopped buying.

      6. Ignorance must be bliss says:

        Wow a coherent thought? I am impressed but still am in disbelief that you are not getting the point. There is always going to be a want or “need” for dogs. As always there will be a few people that exploit this for personal gain and that is what this story is all about. If you did not read the story they want to make this illegal just like drug dealing as you state in your rebuttal. You might want to take a look at my last post again and think about the saying that I posted as this may apply to you.

      7. Ann says:

        Dogs are NOT livestock , nor should they ever be treated as such !! I can’t believe people like you . Dogs are companion animals in this country and should be everywhere else too. Some dogs are smarter than some people I know and it sounds like your one of those people !! Unbelievable ~~~~

      8. Linda Virni says:

        I have rescued puppy mill dogs & their problems with health last all their lives. They have disabilities, severe health issues, and pain that require medication for their entire life. How the hell can you compare a dog to turkeys and hogs. You must be a truly ignorant person.

      9. CustomerIsRight says:

        (Tongue in Cheek answer)
        Well Farmer, why can’t we just raise workers for the businesses like we do turkeys and hogs? Isn’t it all about the money? Just raise them from birth to do exacty what industry needs, no more, and send them off to slaughter when they reach retirement age! Much more efficient! After all, man is an animal too.

      10. Chris says:

        You really are a farmer, Farmer, no consciience at all in regards to animals, just their profit making abiiity.

      11. Pudge says:

        God gave us certain animal to eat, i.e. animal with split hooves and foul. We as humans domesticated dogs, so it is our responsibility to take care of them. We as Americans don’t eat dogs like we do turkey or hogs. Are you not intelligent enough to figure out a way to raise and breed dogs responsibly. Why not put humans in barns and sell them as slaves would not that be efficient as well. Hey, free labor right? My grandfather was a pig farmer but he was not cruel to them.

      12. Pudge says:

        Hey Farmer,

        Yeah they eat dogs in other countries so go there, you are not American. We are more progressive than other countries. You are just too stupid to figure out another way to live how about getting an education and contributing to society in a productive way? Just not smart enough eh?

  2. St Paul says:

    We rescued a puppy from a “pet store” . These animals are usually bred in puppy mills. I wouldn’t normally buy an animal there but she was “on sale” and if not sold in 3 days, would have been returned to the mill to be a breeding dog. We could not let that happen. On the way home we stopped at our Vet to get her checked. She had several medical problems. She had an infection, had never had any shots or medical treatment in her 7 months, and had several other medical issues. It took many months to get her socialized with the other animals in the house. Today after 2 years she is the sweetest little girl but still has a few issues to deal with. I’m so glad we had the time, money, and guidance from our Vet to save this little girl. It’s time to regulate these puppy mills. Many of these animals end up in homes with small children who also have medical issues. The combination can be dangerous to both the dog and child.

  3. JT says:

    We were lucky to find an AWESOME breeder to buy a dog from to train for service for our son. We visited before making a decision and found a happy home, happy dogs, and a healthy environment. I hope the puppy mills ARE regulated and kept in line so breeders like the one we bought from can compete better with the love, care, and excellence they display when raising puppies!

  4. Nancy G says:

    All of these puppy mills should be shut down completely. The puppies may get homes through a pet shop but that in itself encourages these mills. The most heinous things and conditions happens to the dogs that are being used for the breeding. Shut all of these commercial breederspuppy mills down aroun the entire country. The people that run them should have to live in those same conditions as the poor animals do. The dogs deserve better.

  5. Kim says:

    This bill needs to pass! We need to get control over Puppy Mills! I also rescued a dog from a “Pet Store” at Northtown Mall. Even though the sign clearly stats we do not BUY from PUPPY MILLS. This sign is a total JOKE! I spent tons of money on trying to find out what was wrong with my Husky. My Husky is a great dog today at just about a 1.5 years old. I then took to the internet to find out about this Breeder, low and behold I found USDA reports on his puppy mill business and was APPALLED at what I learned. DISGRACEFUL HUMAN BEING. So yes Northtown Mall Pet Store you DO GET YOUR dogs from a PUPPY MILL! Shame on you! My Husky was rescued from this life of what would have been HELL and has made a wonderful pet to my other two dogs. SO PASS THIS BILL MINNESOTA! SAVE THE ANIMALS FROM HELL!

  6. Phil Juntti says:

    I agree with Nancy G. if the puppy mill owners had to live one week in the condition they subject the puppies to I wonder if that would open there eyes. We currenly have three rescue dogs from excellent orginazations lets close the puppy mills and give the dogs to these orginizations to find loveing homes for them.

  7. Kevin #2 says:

    and I bet every Republican will vote against this bill.

    1. RAM says:

      Amazing that you jump to conclusions and assume that Republicans don’t support this bill. Narrowmindedness equals ignorance. I work in dog rescue and have been supporting similar bills in my state for years. Where I live it has been the Democrats that have shot the bill down for that past 3 years running. But you just hang onto your self righteous assumptions. Why on earth to people stupidly assume that everyone in the party opposite than the one they support is against everyone and everything? Personally I think both parties can be incredibly stupid and both have legitimate ideaologies. Neither is perfect.

  8. Jackie D says:

    I agree. Puppy Mills should be reulated. The Republicans hopefully will have their heads on and pass it.

  9. puppyeater says:

    HAHAHA you guys are all fools… the Republicans eat puppies for breakfast (and babies) it will never pass.

    Sadly, that statement is about as ludicrous as some of the ones made below. This bill is a no-brainer, it will pass with ease regardless of political affiliation. Typical dem blaming for all the worlds problems.

    1. Jon says:

      This bill is a no-brainer? You should try reading the article before posting about it: “Fry says his organization has been pushing for a puppy mill bill for five years in a row, only to be met by agricultural opponents at the State Capitol.”

      If this one is a “no-brainer,” why have similar efforts failed “for five years in a row?”

    2. Jill Jensen-Garrett says:

      Watch the voting records and I’ll be you’ll see that many more Dems will vote for this than Republican. Mark my words.

      1. RAM says:

        Funnily enough in my state it has been the exact opposite for 3 years running (even though the bill is led by a Democrat). I don’t really see why this issue is a Democratic or Republican issue. Most people that I personally know support this regardless of their political affiliation. I haven’t met a person yet who has disagreed.

  10. Sandy Berger says:

    We just adopted a puppy from Mn homeward bound rescue. and adopted a cat 8 months ago from the humane society. For my first pet I ignorantly bought a chihuauhau at a pet store and found out later the dog had a seizure disorder which we treated for the 10 years of his life. Dogs from puppy millls are notorious for having medical problems. I am in full support of this leglislation. To Mr. Farmer- Dogs and Cats are domesticated animals, Pets not livestock so that is one reason why they should be raised differently, Lastly, I would be in full support of humane treatment toward our livestock that nourishes us humans, also.

  11. jenny williams says:

    There is no reason this bill shouldn’t be passed if it comes down to the public then lets make this happen! i have summed up this story and made it my fb status including the emails of a couple of representatives. i intend to be heard and hopefully my friends choose to also. if this is important to you let people know tell your friends, tell everyone and email your representative showing your support!

  12. red says:

    FYI I hate to say this but most pet stores get their dogs from Puppy Mills It is disgusting. They will say they don’t but they do. Please pass this bill

    1. C Nablus says:

      Yes – don’t ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store. Go to the breeder or owner directly.

  13. dunnski57 says:

    $6.2 billion in debt and worried about puppies? Get to work legislature and stop dorking around with insignificant items!

    1. Jon says:

      Animal welfare is not an insignificant item in my opinion. I’m glad the legislature is addressing this.

    2. Ignorance must be bliss says:

      Insignificant? Well all studies that I have ever seen state that someone who can abuse an animal has tendencies to graduate to abusing humans. Therefore if you allow animal cruelty you are opening the door to a larger problem down the road. Even if you are not a pet lover there is cause for concern with anyone who is black hearted enough to beat or mistreat something that has no voice to say that this has happened. Maybe you should look at the big picture before getting mad at something you obviously do not know enough about.

  14. Barb L. says:

    Please, whatever side your on politically this bill needs to pass. Anyone who fights this bill needs to have a heart and brain transplant. “Stupid is as stupid does”.

  15. Kiersten says:

    My parents live less than a mile (as the crow flies) from Kathy Bauck’s farm, in Ottertail County. To this day, you can still hear dogs barking 24 hours a day, over there.

    When I personally lived up there, I was out for a drive with my son and spotted an adult male Collie walking along the side of the road w/i 2 miles of the puppy mill. I stopped and tried to approach the dog to see if it had tags (I would take it back to the farm where it came from or call the Owners.) When I started approaching the dog, he looked at me with a tired face and I felt as if he were telling me he would love to trust me, but just can’t. He picked up his pace and started trotting down the road. This dog was tired and old.

    I turned the minivan around and stopped on the side of the road, heading in the opposite direction. My son, 8 at the time, got out and opened the side door. As soon as the dog saw my child and not me (an adult), he turned around, walked to the van and climbed in. Lord, did that dog stink! Smelled like 20 days on a troop train… Knock a buzzard off a sh-t wagon! Holy smokes!

    I took the dog back to my parents’ house and they said it was probably one of Kathy’s dogs, turned loose because he was too old. I then took him back to my house for a meal and a good night’s sleep. With his long Collie fur, all of it was matted and full of burrs. Parts of his fur was rubbed off on his haunches and was replaced by “urine burns” (caused when an animal is forced to sit in its own urine and feces for weeks on end. Think of a bedsore infected with waste. It callouses over, is constantly painfully, and must be surgically removed. He was deaf, had cataracts, his teeth were ground down (the Vet told me more than likely he spent most of his life on a very short chain and was trying to bite through it to get away.)

    I took him to All Creatures Veterinarian, in Perham, the very next day. I dropped him off in the morning and told them to give him his dignity back. That afternoon when I got back, I walked in and unknowingly stood right in front of him, looking around for the pup I had dropped off earlier that day. I did a triple take and realized it was him. I picked up “Max” (kids named him the night before) and took him home; they did such a nice job over there. They shaved him down to 1″ of hair to remove all the burrs and mats, they bathed him, clipped his nails, brushed what little teeth he had left, and gave him his shots, but left a little goatee for him. He walked in a tired, worn out dog, but strutted out of there, very proud, that afternoon. 🙂

    Max lived with our family for the last 9 months of his life. he traveled with us (very well behaved), followed me around the yard, got along great with our other dogs and all of our kids. He was a wonderful addition to our family. This was 5 years ago, and to this day, is still included in our nightly prayers as is all of our other family pets. Max is buried out on my parents’ farm on a beautiful hillside, facing east, under a large oak tree. He is kept company by all of our other dogs and various pets. He is still loved.

    Any “puppy mill” or other facility that treats any type of animal these ways MUST NOT BE IN BUSINESS! Although it was never officially confirmed (Kathy Bauck certainly wouldn’t have admitted to knowing the dog), everyone else I talked to and who met Max said that it was most likely one of Kathy’s dogs, and the Vet said they have seen other dogs in such condition and worse who have come out of the Bauck’s farm. The dogs are abandoned once they have served their purpose and left to die wherever they fall.

    To say this situation needs to end is an understatement.

    1. Patti says:

      Beautiful post! It brought tears to my eyes. No animal deserves to be denied its dignity. Thanks for bringing the reality of puppy mills out in such vivid detail.

    2. Ann says:

      Well, lets shut her down and throw her out to live with no food or housing. I’ve seen what she looks like and she has enough body FAT to keep her going without food for a long time 🙂 I People like this don’t deserve any comforts ! I hope she goes to H-ll………and rots in her own waste, like the poor dogs have to !

    3. Jill Jensen-Garrett says:

      Thank you for rescuing Max 🙂
      Kathy Bauck needs
      to go directly to prison for her crimes.

  16. Mike Fry says:

    To dnnski57,

    It is worth pointing out that the fiscal note prepared on the bill last year by the State shows that if implemented, regulating puppy mills will not cost the state of Minnesota ANY money. The licensing and inspection program would be paid for by fees charged to large-scale commercial breeders. These fees amount to between $1 and $2 per puppy sold. Since the puppies sell for hundreds of dollars each, it is easy to see that the breeders can easily pass those costs on to the buyers of the puppies.

    Translated: this will not cost the state or the breeders any money at all. It will just clean up a HUGE problem in our state.

  17. Penny says:

    I hope and pray that this bill gets passed. It is beyond the pale that some people simply cannot understand the definition of “cruel and inhumane treatment”. Not sure if it is stupidity (the farmer) or lack of information.

  18. Nancy G says:

    I don’t see how 1 or 2 dollars per animal will impact these torture chambers. And inspections? They shoud be done several times per year if these breeders are allowed to stay in business and no prior notification. My dogs are rescues. There are many ‘breed ‘ rescues out there. I also volunteer for a rescue organization, MARS, and would like to see more people adopt from rescues and be certified for fostering. Kiersten, that was a wonderful piece regarding Max. Too Bad Kathy wasn’t sentenced to the 20 days in the same conditions. God love you for taking him home and showing him what it is to be loved and cared for.

    1. CustomerIsRight says:

      The small amount of money may not seem like much. But right now, they do not have to account for anything, so there is no telling how much they are actually making. And, even though pet stores charge hundreds to thousands of dollars for the dogs, the puppy mills sell for much less because of their high volumes. Think of them like dog Wal-Marts (please don’t go off on that tangent-I am not judging Wal-Mart in this) .
      And the funds are intended to run the program of inspections and controls, not as a way to drive the breeders out of business. Their failed inspections will do that.
      I love the idea of certified fosters! Just make sure that any animal in your community is spayed/neutered!

  19. Kiersten says:

    Nancy, it should have been at least 1 day per pup they pulled out of there (dead or alive), if it were up to me. It’s probably good I don’t see more strays – my house would be over flowing with dogs! I have even been known to pick up stray cats whom I’m deathly allergic to (I find the cats different homes, though.) 🙂

    Patti, you are welcome for my memory. My daughter has pictures of all of our pups, present and past, in her room – she takes them all from my photo albums. Max is up there with all the rest. 🙂

  20. Marilyn says:

    People need to see what these puppy mills look like…and what goes on behind closed doors. It’s enough to make you sick. No one in their right mind would support a puppy mill. Check this out for photos and more into –

    1. Jill Jensen-Garrett says:

      Marilyn, I checked out your website. I live in Plymouth and would like to know more about what you do. Are you on FB?

  21. Deb S says:

    We all need to contact our legislators, and all our dog loving friends and family to contact their legislators, and finally get this bill passed! Anyone who does not think this is important is wrong! I have been rescuing dogs my entire life (age 51), and each one is unique, with personalities, unlike Farmer, who sounds like he has no love in his life. Dogs are incredible creatures who help us everyday. I honestly feel sorry for Farmer and have prayed that he finds love, dogs give unconditional love, unlike humans. Humans can be so cruel, so cruel they should be locked up….just lets pass this bill, long overdo!!!

  22. george smythson says:

    It’s clear that this country is corrupt and decedent if folks have the time to get so spun up about puppies when there a real issues that need to be dealt with. There is so much real human need in this world that needs to be addressed to waste time and resources on such a trivial topic. Maybe we should consider eating puppies to address human hunger and the apparent over-supply of puppies–kill two stones with one bird.

  23. Amy says:

    This is so strange because last summer the people of Missouri were told that Missouri was where all the puppy mills were and if we passed the puppy mill law we would eliminate all torture of puppies.

  24. We says:

    Puppy mill what’s wrong with puppy mills,everyone loves puppies .You can never have enough puppies!

    1. US says:

      “We”, you sound like a very cruel person. How can you abide by puppy mills. You should be ashamed. You obviously don’t have any family or pets.

  25. JH says:

    Many states have puppy mills Amy and Missouri sadly is misery for many dogs; I fostered a rescue from there last year and now have one from a mill in Brainerd, MN. This bill must be passed, we really all have to contact our legislators to let them know we care; you can be sure the farmers and NRA members will be lobbying those same legislators to vote against it.

  26. US says:

    “We”, you sound like a very cruel person. How can you abide by puppy mills. You should be ashamed. You obviously don’t have any family or pets.

  27. LM says:

    How can I support the bill being passed?

  28. CG says:

    What needs to finally be passed is a LAW! OUT LAWING breeding mills NATIONWIDE! Enough is ENOUGH! All shelters nationwide are OVER FLOWING with animals who need wonderful, caring, loving, nurturing and NON ABUSIVE homes! If breeding mills (dogs & cats) were aggressively made illegal & outlawed and if shelters became the ONLY place people could obtain a family pet…in 5-10 years the quantity of homeless pets & innocent pets euthanized in shelters would be dramatically reversed. We need to pass a LAW people. NO MORE PUPPY MILLS, NO MORE PET STORES, NO MORE LEGAL BREEDER SALES FOR PROFIT ONLINE! Another law just as important to pass right now is to make this a NO KILL NATION! Shelters should not be allowed to euthanize animals any more! People are more concerned with their flashy cell phones & tech gadgets rather than standing up & DOING SOMETHING FOR THESE ANIMALS! They fate of their innocent & precious little lives is in ALL of our hands!

  29. Kevin #2 says:

    As far as I can tell from the MN legislative web page, this bill has gone no where yet.

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