The Massachusetts Joint Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee (JCPPL) has scheduled a virtual public hearing for Monday, July 12, 2021, from 1pm to 3pm, and will accept comments on two bills of concern to the American Kennel Club (AKC).
OVERSIGHT OF DOG DAYCARES
In the wake of a fatal attack on a puppy in a dog daycare facility, HB 305 was filed as “Ollie’s Law” to license such facilities and create operational standards for them. HB 305 would establish a state license with oversight of commercial boarding and training kennels, which would be in addition to current municipal kennel license requirements. At minimum, the state license would require staff-to-dog ratios, group sizes limits and supervision requirements, housing and care conditions, indoor and outdoor physical facility requirements, dog handling standards, insurance requirements, and fire and emergency contingency plans. In addition, the state would approve required training programs on animal behavior, dog body language, and other subjects for daycare staff to complete. Injuries to dogs or people would be reported to the state.
Other types of kennels (including personal kennels) may be required in the future to also obtain a state license (again, in addition to a municipal kennel license), with state enforcement of rules and regulations relating to animal care and health recommended by an advisory committee. Penalties for violations are not specified.
Preventing tragedies like the one that led to HB 305’s introduction ought to be a high priority, and AKC appreciates the sponsors’ intentions. However, as introduced, HB 305 would make broad and significant changes to state law (viewable here) that would result in duplicative kennel oversight laws and one-size-fits-all requirements in areas such as “training” where individually tailored approaches are more appropriate.
REGULATION OF GROOMERS
HB 378 would require anyone who grooms a pet for money to pass approved testing standards and obtain a state grooming license. Grooming facilities would also undergo periodic inspections to ensure compliance with rules and regulations issued. Use of a cage or box dryer would be explicitly prohibited. Violations would result in penalties ranging from $100 to $1,000 per offense.
Health and safety should always be primary considerations when grooming a dog. In addition to other appropriate training, AKC recommends that professional groomers should pass a course and exam on basic health and safety standards, such as AKC’s S.A.F.E. Grooming Program or a similar program, prior to being licensed as a professional groomer. Grooming that is incidental to preparing a dog for a dog show or other exhibition should be conducted with similar care but should not be subject to licensing or professional grooming regulations.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Massachusetts residents are encouraged to contact the JCPPL Committee and share your concerns. Please consider the following talking points:
- HB 305 ought to focus on dog daycare oversight and safety where none currently exists
- HB 378 licensure must exempt grooming that is done to prepare a dog for a show or exhibition
- Written electronic testimony is preferred and may be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the bill number and “Testimony” in the subject line of the email.
2. Anyone wishing to verbally testify before the committee virtually, on July 12, between 1pm and 3pm, must register to do so before Friday, July 9, at 5pm using this form.
AKC Government Relations (GR) will continue to provide updates on these bills and other Massachusetts legislation as developments warrant. For more information on this or other legislative issues in Massachusetts, contact AKC GR at 919-816-3720 or email@example.com; or the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners at firstname.lastname@example.org.