From: Rita J. Jessen



The County Board should have a thorough and informed discussion of Winona County’s dog breeding ordinance and the dog breeding industry. I was pleased to read last week that some commissioners are in favor of doing that. I say, “Bravo to those commissioners!” The County Board should have a better understanding of how their actions have contributed to the overgrowth of puppy mills in Winona County. 

For years, people from the community have told commissioners that puppy mills are a problem. We don’t want Winona County to be known for this inhumane treatment of dogs; and yet the board has continued to grant permits to these large breeding facilities — so more and more puppies can be mass-produced. It is inhumane to leave dogs caged for life and bred repeatedly in these facilities.

Further, it appears that the county does not have the resources to ensure compliance once the permits are granted and is also passing off anything related to animal welfare to the state. Commissioner Olson said in a recent Winona Post article that “I think if we issue a permit, we have a responsibility to verify that those conditions have been met.” I agree! Good governance is about responsibility and accountability. I appreciate that some commissioners know this and welcome a long-overdue, in-depth discussion about puppy mills and the role of the county. This indeed is a step in the right direction.