On Wednesday, November 8, one dozen animal bills impacting dogs and breeders are on the agenda for review by the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture (JENRA). The hybrid public hearing is scheduled to start at 1PM. The American Kennel Club Government Relations Department (AKC GR) has tracked most of these bills during prior legislative sessions when various committees considered them.
OPPOSE ELIMINATION OF CONSUMER PROTECTIONS:
- HB 801 would dilute the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources’ regulations for animal shelters and rescue organizations. In 2020, the agency adopted 13 pages of regulations to address sick, diseased, and behaviorally challenged animals being re-homed. These regulations require imported animals to be quarantined in an isolation room at a facility for 48 hours. This bill would eliminate that requirement for animals imported from neighboring states for resale or imported directly to permanent or temporary foster homes. AKC believes this may reduce compliance and will increase the risk of communicable disease spread.
- HB 747 and SB 550 would require Massachusetts licensed pet shops to only provide the public with dogs and cats sourced from animal shelter or rescue organizations. Under HB 826 and SB 549, new pet shops would need to do this. However, the number of puppies produced by responsible breeders does not satisfy demand, and shelter and rescue animals are not the best option for every family that wants a pet. If consumers cannot obtain the pet they want from licensed and inspected facilities that are required to give pet purchase protections, they are at significant risk of online scams.
Exponential growth in the import of dogs, particularly from random sources, has resulted in recent incidents of dogs with non-native parasites and zoonotic diseases such as rabies, viral infections, brucellosis, and others being imported and passed into the general public. The American Kennel Club has prioritized the protection of public and pet health when importing animals. Details are here. In addition, substituting a source of pets that provides purchase protections with a source that does not, puts consumers at great risk. For these reasons, AKC opposes HB 801, HB 747, and SB 550.
OTHER BILLS UNDER REVIEW INCLUDE:
- SB 533 would provide additional funding for the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, to ensure animal control officer training and enforcement of current animal welfare and safety laws.
- SB 548 and HB 835 would require the Department of Agricultural Resources to adopt regulations overseeing boarding kennels, “home-based kennels”, and day care facilities.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: AKC GR strongly encourages those who reside in Massachusetts to email JENRA before November 8 at JointCommittee.Environment@malegislature.gov with these two recommendations: 1) oppose the elimination of consumer protections, and 2) enforce the current animal welfare and safety laws. If any of the bills would impact you negatively, please share that with the committee also.
Anyone wishing to provide oral testimony in person or virtually before the committee must complete this form before Monday, November 6, 2023, at 12PM. Once registered, you will receive an invitation to join the hearing one day prior to the hearing if providing oral testimony virtually. Please note there is a time limit of three minutes per person. Testimony in person on November 8 will be in Room A-2 starting at 1PM, Massachusetts State House, 24 Beacon Street, Boston, Massachusetts, 02133.