ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Animal advocates went to the Capitol looking for some high profile support from Minnesota’s official first dog owner.

Gov. Mark Dayton approved legislation to tighten state regulations for professional dog and cat breeders on Tuesday.

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Dayton owns three German Shepherds and he’s supporting a bill to drill down on unethical dog and cat breeders in the state, who run puppy or kitty mills.

The terrible images of animal mistreatment get attention, but animal advocates say there’s no Minnesota law to stop unethical breeders.

This year might be different.

There’s a strong push to impose new breeder regulations, backed by Dayton.

“I see some of these pictures. It’s just horrific,” Dayton said. “It’s just repulsive and to think that’s going on right here in Minnesota, and nobody’s doing anything about it? It’s so un-Minnesotan.”

The new law would affect any breeder who has at least 10 dogs or cats producing at least five litters a year.

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It requires annual state inspections and a $250 annual license fee.

The sponsor of the bill calls that a “commercial breeder” that can cost unknowing buyers thousands of dollars in veterinary bills.

“And the person says, ‘Well, we just bought this dog off the back of a station wagon in the parking lot of a Home Depot on Highway 35.’ And the veterinarian says, ‘Well this came from very, very bad conditions in the last six months,” said Rep. John Lesch, D-St. Paul.

Ali Jarvis started her own rescue after she unwittingly bought her dog Luke from a mass breeder, and had to put him down for health reasons.

“The conditions are deplorable,” Jarvis said. “Oftentimes the adult breeding animals are in cages for their entire breeding life. So they might never get up and walk for four five or six years.”

Animal advocates have been trying to pass this bill for six years now.

It’s opposed by agribusiness groups who say they are worried the law could affect their large livestock operations.

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Supporters say that’s not true — it’s about dogs and cats only.