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Important Massachusetts Alert: Legislation Impacting Dogs And Breeders To Be Considered In June - Begin Outreach Now!

(Tuesday, May 28, 2013)

UPDATED: Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A large number of dog-focused bills have recently been scheduled for a hearing by the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government on Tuesday June 4, 2013. AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) is working closely with the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners (MassFed) and other concerned individuals to address those bills that may most negatively impact responsible dog owners and breeders.

Because of the severity of pending legislation, it is important that Massachusetts residents become aware of the pending legislation and begin reaching out to the members of the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government now. It is also VITALLY IMPORTANT that all concerned responsible dog breeders and owners plan to attend the committee hearing on June 4.


HB 1874 / SB 401 – Described as acts that would “protect puppies and kittens”, these bills would actually require individuals who house more than 3 females (dogs and/or cats) to be licensed as “pet dealers” and be subject to commercial breeder regulations. The bill also provides for consumer protection provisions that, if enacted as introduced, will have far-reaching negative impacts on Massachusetts breeders.

  • It repeals current exemptions from commercial licensing enjoyed by those who transfer the offspring of their personally-owned animals. As a result, the law will treat such breeders similar to the way pet shops are treated for licensing purposes under state law.
  • It expansively redefines “hobby breeders” as any “person engaged in the incidental breeding and subsequent sale, barter, or exchange of the offspring of not more than three personally-owned breeding females” and would include such hobby breeders in the definition of pet dealer.
  • It subjects “pet dealers” (excepting hobby breeders) to new consumer protection provisions that do not afford breeders the opportunity to provide better puppy and buyer protections by private contract, or a second veterinary medical opinion or appeal prior to being required to provide a buyer with state-mandated remedies.
  • It extends rulemaking power to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources over commercial breeder kennels, personal kennels, and to persons otherwise selling, exchanging or otherwise transferring the offspring of their personally- owned dogs and/or cats, and provides that a wide variety of standards of care must be addressed by administrative rule.

The AKC joins MassFed in opposing these bills as currently written. The AKC believes that, as introduced, HB 1874 and SB 401 feature inadequate consumer protection provisions that must be addressed. Additionally, the AKC is deeply concerned with unintended consequences that may flow from these bills. Specifically, if enacted in their current form, these bills would treat hobby breeders similarly to how commercial facilities are handled in the Commonwealth. Such a declaration could negatively impact home-based purebred dog fanciers whose residential property zoning classifications may, as a result of the new treatment, prohibit such activity.

SB 969 -- Alaw enacted in 2012created a new statewide definition of "dangerous dogs" that prevented a dog from being declared dangerous only because of the dog's breed. In response, severalBoston-area officials are now leading an effortto repeal the state's breed-neutral policy. SB 969 would allow any community in Massachusetts to enact breed-specific laws. The AKC and MassFed both promote breed-neutral dangerous dog policies, and therefore both strongly oppose SB 969. Click here to read AKC’s previous legislative alert on the matter.

HB 1852 –Broadens felony animal cruelty definitions to include “failure to provide the animal with veterinary care that results in unnecessary suffering”. The AKC abhors all cruelty to animals, but is concerned that this vague definition may result in unreasonable charges against owners for minor conditions that are often treated without the supervision of a veterinarian (i.e., minor ear infections or preventative care such as dental cleanings).

OTHER DOG-RELATED BILLS TO BE CONSIDERED ON JUNE 4, 2013:

HB 1824 – Seeks to require forfeiture of any animal used to violate the Controlled Substances Act, and seeks to establish a seized animal fund to provide for those animals.

HB 1825 – Provides that no person, commercial establishment, pet shop, firm, or corporation shall sell a puppy or kitten in Massachusetts that is less than eight weeks of age, and that violations shall result in a $100 fine per offense. Both the AKC and MassFed support HB 1825.

HB 1826In addition to further restricting the practice of tethering dogs outside, this bill seeks to remove the use of the word “guardian” in the current tethering statute. The AKC supports the removal of the word “guardian” from Massachusetts’ animal laws, as we believe the term guardian may reduce the legal status and value of dogs as property and thereby restrict the rights of owners, veterinarians, and government agencies to protect and care for dogs.

HB 1840Seeks to change the required minimum space that must be provided by an outside pen or secure enclosure, from the current strict engineering standard of 100 square feet to the performance-based standard of “adequate for the size of the dog”. The AKC joins in MassFed’s support of HB 1840.

HB 1876 – Seeks to standardize rabies vaccination certificates issued in the Commonwealth, and will expand (from 30 to 90 days) the time within which an owner of a dog newly brought into Massachusetts may have the dog vaccinated for rabies.

SB 942 – Seeks to protect abandoned animals in vacant properties, including those vacated as a result of foreclosure, termination of tenancy, abandonment, or other removal actions or exclusions of a tenant.

SB 952 – Provides that, in addition to animal control officers, the current law regarding tethering may also be enforced by officers of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Animal Rescue League of Boston.

SB 957 – Would further restrict the practice of tethering in the Commonwealth by reducing the time a person may lawfully tether a dog, to either a stationary object or outside, to five hours in a 24-hour period. SB 957 would also increase penalties for violations of tethering limits.

Click here to view MassFed’s positions on all pending dog-related legislation in Massachusetts.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Massachusetts residents are urged to contact your legislators and to begin planning to attend the committee meeting on Tuesday, June 4 (details below). Additionally, begin contacting the committee members (listed below) and your elected state legislators (click here to find your Massachusetts state legislators) now to let them know your concerns with any of the bills they will consider on June 4th. It is strongly recommended that you request to meet with committee members in person prior to the June 4th meeting to clearly and respectfully let them know your concerns.

Committee Information: The Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government will consider the bills noted above on Tuesday, June 4, 2013. 13 animal-related bills are scheduled for consideration that day. The committee is scheduled to meet from 11:00AM-12:30PM in Room 437, take a 30 minute break, then resume the meeting from 1:00PM-5:00PM in Room A2.

Senate Members – Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government

Senator Sal N. DiDomenico, Senate Chair
Rm. 218
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-1650
Email: Sal.DiDomenico@masenate.gov

Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, Senate Vice Chair
Rm. 312D
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-1673
Email: Sonia.Chang-Diaz@masenate.gov

Senator William N. Brownsberger
Rm. 413C
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-1280
Email: William.Brownsberger@masenate.gov

Senator James E. Timilty
Rm. 507
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-1222
Email: James.Timilty@masenate.gov

Senator Barry R. Finegold
Rm. 416B
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-1612
Email: Barry.Finegold@MASenate.gov

Senator Richard J. Ross
Rm. 520
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-1555
Email: Richard.Ross@masenate.gov

House Members – Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government

Representative Sarah K. Peake, House Chair
Rm. 540
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2090
Email: Sarah.Peake@mahouse.gov

Representative Gailanne M. Cariddi, House Vice Chair
Rm. 155
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2450
Email: Gailanne.Cariddi@mahouse.gov

Representative Thomas M. Stanley
Rm. 167
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2230
Email: Thomas.Stanley@mahouse.gov

Representative Sean Garballey
Rm. 540
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2090
Email: Sean.Garballey@mahouse.gov

Representative Rhonda L. Nyman
Rm. 473F
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2210
Email: Rhonda.Nyman@MAhouse.gov

Representative Wayne A. Matewsky
Rm. 540
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2090
Email: Wayne.Matewsky@mahouse.gov

Representative Kevin J. Kuros
Rm. 443
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2460
Email: Kevin.Kuros@mahouse.gov

Representative Cleon H. Turner
Rm. 540
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2090
Email: Cleon.Turner@mahouse.gov

Representative Timothy R. Madden
Rm. 167
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2810
Email: Timothy.Madden@mahouse.gov

Representative David M. Rogers
Rm. 134
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2400
Email: Dave.Rogers@mahouse.gov

Representative Peter Durant
Rm. 33
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2060
Email: Peter.Durant@mahouse.gov

AKC Government Relations will continue to provide additional information and calls to action prior to the June 4th committee meeting, and will report additional developments as they warrant. For more information, contact AKC GR at (919) 816-3720, or doglaw@akc.org; or MassFed at info@massfeddogs.com.

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