Comprehensive Update of Minneapolis Animal Care & Control Ordinances
Recent ordinance changes
On February 12, 2016, the Minneapolis City Council adopted an updated Animal Care & Control ordinance that reflects the changes suggested by MACC, the City Attorney's Office, and community stakeholders. Below are links to the new ordinance, the initial proposed draft ordinance, and the past ordinance.
Taking a hard look at our services and programs
In 2014, the City Council asked us to take a hard look at the ordinances that govern Minneapolis Animal Care & Control (MACC). After a substantial review, it became clear that the most effective way to make changes was to rewrite the entire ordinance to provide clear, concise ordinances that provide uniform standards of care for all animals in the city.
MACC and the Department of Regulatory Services have created an ordinance that clearly defines who we are, the mission of MACC, and laws that set the standards for animal protection in the city of Minneapolis.
MACC reached out to our partners and stakeholders and asked for feedback on what was and wasn't working well. What we learned from these conversations is that MACC is doing a lot of things really well, but we also heard:
- Our mission needs to be updated to reflect modern animal welfare practices and community expectations
- We could be doing more to help create a pet-friendly city that has the protections necessary to provide all animals with a good life
- Our Animal Shelter should provide services to its community and improve the lives of citizens and animals
- Ordinances should be easy to understand and work with
- The importance of continued commitment to effective protection from dangerous or vicious animals
- Freedom to responsibly own animals currently banned by ordinance should be allowed
- Compliance with permits and license requirements is necessary, but some of the regulations around securing those permits were difficult and ultimately counterproductive
What we are proposing
The draft ordinance revisions are based on several months of research and focus group conversations. The proposed changes reflect a combination of best practices and direct feedback from stakeholders.
New for MACC and Its Partners
A large portion of the proposed ordinance is devoted to establishing consistent definitions—what we mean by the terms we most commonly use to describe the work. The previous language was vague, making it difficult to enforce. By clearly stating definitions, everyone will have a common understanding of the spirit and letter of the law.
Role and purpose of MACC
The proposed language outlines the roles and responsibilities of MACC and the authority of staff to protect animals and enforce ordinances. The language also authorizes MACC to develop written policies and procedures for all animal shelter operations.
Records and public accountability
As part of maintaining transparency and accountability, the new ordinance establishes parameters and expectations of what records MACC and its partner organizations will maintain.
Standards, care, and disposition of impounded animals
The proposed changes provide additional expectations for care and management of animals that are housed at the MACC and in private shelters. It specifies that all animals must receive:
- Veterinary care
- Preventative vaccinations
- Emergency medical care
- Pain management
- Sanitation and disease prevention protocols
Disposition of impounded animals
Procedures and protocols for determining whether or not an animal is adoptable are defined in proposed language. The proposed ordinance includes transparent processes for euthanasia and transfers to rescue partners, and it clarifies the holding period for stray and surrendered animals.
New for the Community
Nuisances and disturbing the peace
One of the major complaints received by MACC is barking dogs. This is a quality of life issue for both pet owners and non-pet owners alike. The proposed changes expand the definition of what constitutes a nuisance and provides additional tools to assist officers with enforcement. Specifics of the proposed changes include:
- Applies to all animals
- Noise must be plainly audible across a property line or through partitions common to two residences
- Must take place for 15 minutes between 7 AM and 10 PM or for 10 minutes between 10 PM and 7 AM
Leashing and tethering
Dogs living continuously on tethers create non-socialized and often dangerous animals. The proposed changes require that tethered animals be monitored and the owner nearby to intervene when necessary to prevent injury. The proposed language would prohibit the tethering of dogs while there is no one home.
Endangering the public
The proposed changes specifically prohibit the care, housing, or custody of any animal in such a manner that endangers the safety of the public.
New for Owners
Licensing & Permitting
There are approximately 300,000 pets in the city. Licensing your pet is one of the many ways that residents engage with MACC staff and its services. Proposed changes to licensing and permitting requirements reflect the current reality of owning and caring for animals in the City. The proposed changes include:
- Creating a reptile and amphibian permit
- Updating requirements for chickens
- Removing signature requirements
- Eliminating licensing requirement for rabbits (but including rabbits in multiple animal permit requirements)
Number of pets
The current ordinance requires a multiple animal permit for anyone who has over three animals of any combination of dog, cat, ferret, or rabbit. The proposed changes would allow up to four animals (no more than three of which can be dogs) per dwelling unit without the need for a multiple animal permit. This change takes into account the needs of the animals as well as the impact on community. Rabbits will still need multiple animal permit but not a license.
One major gap in the previous ordinance was the lack of detail about what constitutes responsible pet ownership. Under the proposed changes, the duties of the owner would be clearly defined and include requirements to provide:
- Adequate food, water, and shelter
- Access to care, treatment, and transportation to veterinary care
- Appropriate space and exercise
- Access to care to prevent pain and suffering
The proposed changes also specifically prohibit torture, abandonment, cruelty, and harmful caging. This provision would apply to all animals cared for in the city—not just pets or companion animals.
New for Animals
Animal trapping is sometimes necessary to prevent property damage or remove a nuisance animal from the area. Trapping is still legal in Minneapolis under those circumstances–provided state and federal laws are followed. The Minneapolis ordinance would require that nuisance animals such as raccoons and squirrels be trapped using humane methods to allow them to be released back to the wild.
Reptiles and amphibians
Working with the Herpetological Society and other stakeholders, the proposed changes include a new permit that specifically allows residents to own non-toxic, non-venomous, and non-poisonous reptiles and amphibians as pets. Dangerous reptiles and amphibians and some larger turtles will continue to be prohibited as pets.
Raising poultry is a one way to provide Minneapolis with locally grown and harvested products. Proposed changes are designed to keep pace with growing demand and to reasonably regulate fowl. Provisions protecting the animals and making it easier to obtain a permit are included in the proposed changes. Specifically, the amendments would:
- Eliminate the neighbor signature requirement
- Increase education about caring for poultry and fowl
- Better define adequate care requirements for poultry and fowl
- Roosters to require a special permit
- Replace bulk annual renewals with 12 month rolling permits
The proposed changes will add to current procedures for euthanasia and include a requirement to establish and check against the registry of organizations willing to accept animals prior to euthanasia. Additionally, the proposed changes establish general procedural requirements to be used when euthanasia is necessary.
Areas With No Changes Proposed
There are many provisions in the current ordinance where there are no proposed changes. These areas include:
- Feral cats
- Commercial vendors
- Licensing (with the exception of eliminating license requirements for rabbits)
- Feces clean-up
- State law requirements, e.g. dangerous dogs
MACC would like to hear from you. The current proposed changes were generated based on community feedback and will continue to help shape the ordinances as they move towards adoption. Please be aware that your comments will become public data and may be included in the official council record of the ordinance change.
Last updated Mar 18, 2016