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Massachusetts Hearing Reminder: Plan to Attend Next Week's Legislative Hearing Impacting Dogs and Breeders!

(Tuesday, May 28, 2013)
The AKC Government Relations Department reminds all Massachusetts residents that a legislative committee will consider several bills next week that will impact responsible dog breeders and owners. It is crucial that all responsible dog breeders and owners in Massachusetts continue to contact legislators, and to plan to attend the Tuesday, June 4th meeting of the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government.

Click here to view AKC’s previous alert on the Joint Municipalities and Regional Government Committee (updated 5/28/13), which features detailed information on all bills expected to be heard.

Summary of bills to be heard:

  • HB 1874 / SB 401 – OPPOSE AS CURRENTLY WRITTEN – 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. The AKC opposes 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 – OPPOSE – A law enacted in 2012 created a new statewide definition of "dangerous dogs" that prevented a dog from being declared dangerous only because of the dog's breed. In response, several Boston-area officials are now leading an effort to 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 – OPPOSE – 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 proposed 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).

  • HB 1825 – SUPPORT – 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 1840 – SUPPORT – Seeks 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 1826 – SUPPORTIn 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 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 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.

WHAT CAN MASSACHUSETTS RESIDENTS DO: If you haven’t already done so, 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 atinfo@massfeddogs.com.

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