The Massachusetts Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government (JCMRG) has scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday, September 26, 2023, from 1pm to 5pm, and will accept comments until October 3, on multiple animal bills, including two opposed by the American Kennel Club (AKC).
TO INCREASE KENNEL SAFETY, AKA “OLLIE’S LAW”
In the wake of a fatal attack on a puppy in a dog daycare facility, HB 2019 and SB 1309 have been changed from last session’s “Ollie’s Law” and re-filed to “increase kennel safety”. These bills would:
- Add state regulations and enforcement for municipal kennel licensees;
- Create a new sixth municipal kennel license category for “personal breeder kennel” by carving out a subset of “personal kennel” owners that have intact female dogs over six months of age;
- Adopt commercial rules and regulations and also apply them to “personal breeder kennel” licensees, unless they keep all offspring of their personally-owned dogs;
- Appoint an advisory committee to annually review regulations and recommend staff-to-dog ratios, fire and emergency planning, group sizes and supervision, minimum housing and care requirements, indoor and outdoor physical facility requirements, dog handling, and insurance for commercial boarding or training kennels and private residences; and
- Require reporting of all injuries to dogs or people to the state for investigation.
Ensuring proper treatment of pets left in the care of a business, such as a dog day care facility, is important, and AKC appreciates the sponsors’ intentions. However, AKC strongly opposes Ollie’s Law because, instead of addressing dog daycare businesses, it would punish responsible Massachusetts dog owners, undermine the Massachusetts dog fancy, and apply commercial rules to private homes where personally-owned dogs are bred for purpose of improving, exhibiting, or showing the breed or for use in legal sporting activities.
UPDATING ANIMAL HEALTH INSPECTIONS
SB 1311 is a newly-filed bill that would remove Massachusetts’ legal distinction between state licensed commercial entities (pet shops) and personal kennel licensees by eliminating text in the second paragraph of MGL c. 129 § 39A. As a result, personal kennel licensees would need to obtain a pet shop license after inspection of their home to demonstrate compliance with pet shop regulations.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Massachusetts residents are encouraged to contact the JCMRG Committee and share your opposition. Please consider the following talking points:
- Ollie’s Law ought to focus on dog daycare businesses safety issues, not individual dog owners.
- I do not want animal control officers inspecting my home to tell me how many dogs I can own, count how many over six months are intact, and monitor if I transfer any their offspring.
- Applying business rules to a personal kennel will hamstring those who personally own dogs for purpose of improving, exhibiting, or showing the breed or for use in legal sporting activities.
- Personal kennels are not businesses and should not be regulated like pet shops or dog daycares.
- Written electronic testimony may be submitted until 5pm on October 3, 2023, via email to email@example.com. Please include the bill number and “Testimony” in the subject line. In the body of your email, address your opposition to House Chair Rep. Carole Fiola and Senate Chair Sen. Jacob Oliveira.
2. Anyone wishing to testify before the committee in person or virtually, on September 26, between 1pm and 5pm, must register to do so before Monday, September 25, at 5pm using this form. If you wish to testify on a panel, please indicate that on the Google form. Once registered, you will receive an email with instructions for joining the hearing. Oral testimony will be limited to 3 minutes per person.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org; or the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners at email@example.com.