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April 29, 2011

The Massachusetts Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government will consider a series of dog bills at its hearing on May 11, 2011.  Responsible dog owners in Massachusetts are encouraged to attend the hearing or contact the committee with comments on any of the bills on the agenda.

View the names and contact information for the committee here.

If you are interested in attending the hearing on May 11, contact the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners (MassFed) at


Over 10 bills are scheduled to be considered by the joint committee, including:

House Bill 562:

The AKC and MassFed both support this bill, which strengthens the Commonwealth’s dangerous dog laws by creating a number of provisions, including:

  • Allowing dogs declared “at risk” to have the designation removed if the dog does not exhibit the behavior again within two years.
  • Preventing municipalities from establishing breed-specific at-risk or dangerous dog policies.

House Bill 1455:

The AKC and MassFed both oppose this bill, which makes numerous changes to the animal control laws, including:

  • Requiring an intact animal permit for all owners of intact dogs (current law already requires a special license for unspayed females).  The AKC opposes all differential licensing for owners of intact dogs.
  • Allowing municipalities to ban or regulate specific breeds.  Once approved, the local government must develop a 3-person board “to identify and determine the breed of dogs”.  This board would include two members of the public (one who must be an “expert in the field of animals”) and the local animal control officer.
  • Providing a list of recommended penalties  for nuisance violations, including sterilization or euthanasia.


Other bills to be considered by the committee include:

Senate Bill 1033 – This bill makes numerous changes to the animal control and licensing laws, including differentiating between commercial breeder kennels, personal kennels and commercial boarding/training kennels.

House Bill 1437 – This legislation mandates the sterilization of all cats, unless the owner possesses an intact animal permit. As currently written, cats would be the only animals subject to this license.

House Bill 2326 –Among other provisions, this bill expands the crime of animal cruelty to include “knowingly and unjustifiably” failing to provide veterinary care “that results in unnecessary suffering.” It is unclear how these terms would be defined.

House Bill 2885 – Current law requires all cities and towns to appoint an animal control officer or contract with a charitable organization to perform these duties.  HB 2885, among other provisions, would impose a $500/day fine on cities that are not in compliance with this mandate. 

House Bill 2886 – This bill would prohibit the sale of a dog or cat that is under 8 weeks of age.


For more information on these and other bills on the agenda, visit the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners website at or contact the AKC Government Relations Department at (919) 816-3720 or

MA Committee to…