The Animal Humane Society has seen a significant increase in equine related cases (both complaints and seizures) over the past two years. It is important to draw people's attention to the legal minimum requirements for horse ownership. According to Chapter 346 in the Minnesota Pet and Companion Animal Welfare Act, equines are defined as horses, ponies, mules, and burros. The Act outlines several requirements, including:
- Food. Equines must be provided with food of sufficient quantity and quality to allow for normal growth or the maintenance of body weight. Feed standards shall be those recommended by the National Research Council.
- Water. Equines must be provided with clean, potable water in sufficient quantity to satisfy the animal's needs or supplied by free choice. Snow or ice is not an adequate water source.
- Shelter. Equines must be provided a minimum of free choice protection or constructed shelter from adverse weather conditions, including direct sun, extreme heat or cold, wind, or precipitation. Natural or constructed shelters must be of sufficient size to provide the necessary protection. Constructed shelters must be structurally sound, free of injurious matter, maintained in good repair, and ventilated. Outside exercise paddocks do not require separate constructed shelters, as long as equines are not kept in outdoor exercise paddocks during adverse weather conditions.
- Space and cleanliness requirements. Constructed shelters except for tie stalls must provide space for the animal to: (1) roll with a minimum danger of being cast; or (2) easily stand, lie down, and turn around. Stalls must be cleaned and kept dry to the extent the animal is not required to lie or stand in fluids. Bedding must be provided in all stalls, kept reasonably clean, and periodically changed. The nature of the bedding must not pose a health hazard to the animal.
- Exercise. Equines must be provided opportunity for periodic exercise, either through free choice or through a forced work program, unless exercise is restricted by a licensed veterinarian.
- Hoof care. All equines must have their hooves properly trimmed periodically to prevent lameness.
- Transportation. A vehicle used to transport an equine must have a floor capable of supporting the animal's weight safely. Floors must be of nonskid construction or of nonskid material sufficient to provide the animal with traction while in transport. A minimum of 12 inches must be allowed between the withers of the largest equine and the structure above the animal while it is in a natural standing position. Sturdy partitions must be provided at a minimum of approximately every ten feet inside the vehicle. Interior compartments of transporting vehicles must be of smooth construction with no protruding or sharp objects and must provide ventilation. Food and water must be provided in sufficient quantities to minimize stress and maintain hydration.
- A veterinarian must report known or suspected cases of abuse, cruelty, or neglect to peace officers and humane agents. If you know of or suspect an animal neglect or cruelty case, please contact Animal Humane Society (AHS) (763-489-2235), AHS Agents Keith Streff (763-489-2236) or Wade Hanson (763-489- 1570), your local law enforcement agency, or an animal control facility. Your call will be kept confidential, but you may be asked to testify if charges are filed, or submit an eyewitness statement (follow up with AHS for more information). You will need to leave your name and a phone number in case more information is needed. The correct address of where the violation is occurring is very important and needed to open an investigation. For your safety, never approach someone you suspect of animal cruelty or neglect. Contacting the correct agency(ies) will result in the best resolution of the problem.
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