Updated LMC Memo Addresses Animal Regulation

Beekeeping, feral cats, dangerous dogs … oh my! Cities are getting more and more questions about everything from urban chickens to the number of pets permissible per household. The newly updated memo, Animal Regulation in Cities, addresses these issues and more.

Animal regulation law has been changing. The most recent developments include statutory changes related to the seizing and destroying of animals. Where state statute used to address the disposition of stray animals, now only the seizure of animals is permitted. The other statutory change is cities may no longer release seized animals for research or product testing. (See Minnesota Statutes, section 346.47.)

There have also been recent case law developments in dangerous dog law. Last December, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued a decision in Sawh v. City of Lino Lakes, which was argued by League attorney James Mongè. In this case, the Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously found that the city had a reasonable basis for determining that the dog was dangerous, and that the city acted properly in destroying the dangerous dog after it bit three people. The lesson for cities from this case is that cities should have a fair process and reasonable basis for determining a dog is dangerous.

In addition to these changes, the memo includes information on drafting animal regulation ordinances, understanding the difference between animal owner rights and responsibilities and city responsibilities, licensing of pets, regulating feral cats, treating police dogs and service animals, and understanding state regulations on animal cruelty.

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