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Friday, October 23, 2015

On Wednesday, October 28, the Joint Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee of the Massachusetts legislature will consider bills impacting the keeping of dogs.  House Bill 649 seeks to address the problems associated with the importation of animals intended for adoption, while Senate Bill 444 seeks to ensure that trainers of service animals enjoy equal access to public and private accommodations.  The American Kennel Club (AKC) strongly supports both bills as introduced.  Dog owners in Massachusetts are strongly encouraged to contact the members of the committee (listed below) and respectfully request their support of these important proposals. 

About HB 649—Relative to the Importation of Animals for Rescue
Problems associated with the “humane relocation movement” are well documented.  The lack of regulation addressing the importation of dogs from one state into another in an effort to supply animal shelters and rescue groups with sources of dogs to sell have resulted in threats to the public health and a multitude of consumer issues.  HB 649 seeks to remedy the problems associated with the importation of animals intended to supply shelters and rescues by:

  • Requiring animal rescue organizations and transport carriers to apply for and receive appropriate registrations from the MA Department of Agricultural Resources. 

 

  • Calling for registered organizations to include their state registration numbers in all print, online, and other media advertisements, promotional materials, and offers made to public. 

 

  • Classifying rescue organizations based on processing planning, complete adherence to veterinary inspection certifications on all animals imported, and solely using USDA-registered carriers to conduct import activities. 

 

  • Allowing the Commissioner of Agricultural Resources to issue cease and desist orders or to suspend or revoke the registrations of organizations that violate any provisions of the bill; and to levy administrative fines of up to $500 per violation. 

 

  • Subjecting registrants, including foster homes, to inspection by the Department of Agricultural Resources during normal business hours. 

 

  • Mandating that all imported dogs be accompanied by animal identification, an official certificate of veterinary inspection, and a certificate of health issued by an examining veterinarian within 30 days of date of transfer. 

 

  • Requiring dogs to be spayed/neutered before being offered for adoption; or requiring to adoption agreements to include a sterilization clause for those dogs too young to undergo the spay/neuter prior to adoption.  

 

  • Prohibiting the transfer of an animal less than eight weeks of age. 
     
  • Including a 14-day consumer protection period. 

In the interests of protecting the public health and ensuring that protections afforded consumers who purchase dogs from shelter and rescue organizations are similar to pending protections afforded consumers who purchase dogs from breeders, the AKC supports AB 649. Mary.Keefe@mahouse.gov

About SB 444—To Provide Equal Access to Service Animal Trainers
In federal law, the Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination when they are renting, buying, or securing financing for any housing.  The federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 further prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability programs run by federal agencies; programs that receive federal financial assistance; in federal employment; and in the employment practices of federal contractors. 

SB 444 would extend a statutory right in Massachusetts law, similar to the rights provided by those acts in federal law, to any person accompanied by and/or residing with and engaged in the raising or training of a service animal, including a hearing, guide, or assistance animal. 

The American Kennel Club strongly supports the training and use of dogs by humans, whose lives are enriched by dogs’ performing essential services. Dogs provide a wide variety of valuable services including: handicapped assistance dogs; drug, bomb, and arson detection dogs; and tracking dogs to locate missing persons and fugitives.  The AKC encourages the continuation and further development of the use of dogs for these and similar purposes.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Dog owners in Massachusetts are strongly encouraged to contact the members of the Joint Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee and respectfully request their support of both HB 649 and SB 444. 

Senate Members

State Senator Anne M. Gobi, Senate Chair
Phone: 617-722-1540
Email: anne.gobi@masenate.gov

State Senator Michael F. Rush, Senate Vice Chair
Phone: 617-722-1348
Email: Mike.Rush@masenate.gov

State Senator James B. Eldridge
Phone: 617-722-1120
Email: Mike.Rush@masenate.gov

State Senator James E. Timilty
Phone: 617 722-1222
Email: James.Timilty@masenate.gov

State Senator Thomas M. McGee
Phone: 617-722-1350
Email: Thomas.McGee@masenate.gov

State Senator Robert H. Hedlund
Phone: 617-722-1646
Email: Robert.Hedlund@masenate.gov

House Members

Representative Paul A. Schmid, III, House Chair
Phone: 617-722-2210
Email: Paul.Schmid@mahouse.gov

Representative Brian R. Mannal, House Vice Chair
Phone: 617-722-2210
Email: Brian.Mannal@mahouse.gov 

Representative Robert M. Koczera
Phone: 617-722-2582
Email: Robert.Koczera@mahouse.gov

Representative Carolyn C. Dykema
Phone: 617-722-2680
Email: Carolyn.Dykema@mahouse.gov

Representative Mary S. Keefe
Phone: 617-722-2210
Email: Mary.Keefe@mahouse.gov  

Representative Christine P. Barber
Phone: 617-722-2430
Email: Christine.Barber@mahouse.gov

Representative James M. Kelcourse
Phone: 617-722-2130
Email: james.kelcourse@mahouse.gov

Representative James M. Cantwell
Phone: 617-722-2140
Email: James.Cantwell@mahouse.gov

Representative Josh S. Cutler
Phone: 617-722-2210
Email: Josh.Cutler@mahouse.gov

Representative Jay D. Livingstone
Phone: 617-722-2396
Email: Jay.Livingstone@mahouse.gov

Representative Donald R. Berthiaume, Jr. 
Phone: 617-722-2090
Email: Donald.Berthiaume@mahouse.gov

For more information, contact AKC’s Government Relations Department at (919) 816-3720, or email doglaw@akc.org.  

On Wednesday, October 28, the Joint Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee of the Massachusetts legislature will consider bills impacting the keeping of dogs. House Bill 649 seeks to address the problems associated with the importation of animals intended for adoption, while Senate Bill 444 seeks to ensure that trainers of service animals enjoy equal access to public and private accommodations. The American Kennel Club (AKC) strongly supports both bills as introduced.

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