By: Angie Einsman
As a lifelong animal lover who has worked closely with shelters and rescues in Florida and Minnesota, I was shocked and appalled when I recently discovered that Winona County has the largest number of puppy mills in the state of Minnesota. I was also deeply disturbed to learn that Winona County does not do any animal welfare-related oversight at the many large-scale dog-breeding facilities otherwise known as puppy mills. County officials have been adamant that animal welfare should be left to the state. The fact that some of these facilities were fully operational before permits were issued is also a major concern.
I’ve seen dogs that end up in shelters or shelters that haven’t been socialized properly, which prevents them from bonding with their owners or other pets. Often these dogs are returned to shelters multiple times due to socialization issues. They suffer from anxiety and other health issues due to over-breeding and inbreeding. It is a challenge to potty train them as they have lived in cages or kennels all their lives. Dogs need to be cared for mentally, socially, and physically so that they don’t end up with behavioral problems and illnesses.
This is why the Winona County Council needs to discuss animal welfare at these large-scale dog breeding facilities. How are animals treated? What happens to female dogs when they can no longer be bred? How often does the veterinarian examine each animal? What is the fate of a defective puppy? These issues and more should all be discussed by the Winona County Council. If Winona County doesn’t have the time or resources to track animal welfare, then why are permits granted in the first place? I believe puppy mills are a horrible business that harms animals for money. I support a ban on future permits for puppy mills in Winona County.