Yesterday, several committees of the Massachusetts General Court took procedural action on dog-related bills. Some bills were ordered to study, which means that they will likely not be considered for the remainder of the legislative session, while others had their deadlines for further consideration extended.
BILLS SENT TO STUDY:
The Joint Judiciary Committee ordered multiple bills opposed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners (MassFed) to study order. These include: S.990 (tethering), H.1445 (animal abuse registry), H.1444 (changing the legal status of pets), H.1561 (non-economic damages), and H.3258 (non-economic damages).
Opposed bills considered by other joint committees also sent to study include: H.2573 (tax credits to promote shelter adoptions), S.118 (licensure of dog trainers), S.502 (licensing exemptions for privately-operated shelters and rescues), S.504 (licensing of all dog breeders), and H.755 (oversight exemptions for importation of animals for rescue, shelter, foster, adoption or remote sale).
BILLS WITH EXTENDED CONSIDERATION DEADLINES:
The Joint Judiciary Committee has extended its review of S.989, which regards issuing citations for cruel conditions (including dogs outside and unattended) to May 12, 2020.
The Joint Municipalities and Regional Government Committee has extended its deadline to decide whether or not to proceed with multiple bills seeking to impose regulatory oversight over personal and commercial kennels, mandate annual inspections of all kennels, and create consumer protection laws that exempt animal shelters and rescue organizations from providing appropriate remedies. AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) has learned that decisions are expected to be made by March 2, 2020.
COMMITTEE REDRAFTS: Instead of favorably reporting H.800 and S.175, which seek to ban the retail sale of cats and dogs in pet shops, the Joint Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee released a re-drafted bill, An Act Reforming the Sale of Cats, Dogs, and Rabbits in the Commonwealth. The bill would standardize the requirements for transferring animals for sale or delivery to a new home by a pet shop, animal rescue organization, animal shelter, breeder, or broker. Those entities would be required to adhere to official health certificate, recordkeeping, and microchipping requirements; impose warranties for animals deemed sick or unfit by a veterinarian; and provide for return policies for defective records or certificates. Violations would carry a $500 fine and be treated as an unfair or deceptive act or practice in the conduct of trade or commerce under the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act. The re-drafted bill will be sent to the Senate when a new bill number has been assigned.
AKC GR is grateful that concerns have been heard by the Massachusetts Joint Committees reporting yesterday and would like to thank the Joint Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Chairmen and their staff in particular, for their significant work.
Both AKC and MassFed have submitted written testimony opposing or expressing concerns with H.1774 and S.114 (personal kennel restrictions), H. 1757 (expanding oversight over commercial kennels), H.1758 (increasing fines), H. 1822 (arbitrary confinement restrictions), and H. 1823 and S.1204 (potentially overbroad consumer protections, as written. The AKC testimony can be reviewed here.
Massachusetts residents, especially those living in Worcester and West Boylston, are strongly encouraged to contact the Joint Municipalities and Regional Government Committee members to express their concerns with these remaining bills.
Comments in opposition should note that:
- 1774 and S.114 result in disparate impacts on personal kennels and have unreasonably low thresholds (five intact females) for dogs kept under a municipal personal kennel license specifically for the betterment of their respective breed and/or for show, trialing, or other sports or purposes.
- 1822 significantly restricts the time periods in which a dog may be securely confined in a fenced-in yard, among other arbitrary confinement measures.
Joint Municipalities and Regional Government Committee members and their contact information are listed below:
Representative Jim O’Day, Chair – James.O’Day@mahouse.gov
Senator Becca Rausch, Chair – firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Diana DiZoglio, Vice Chair – email@example.com
Representative Tom Stanley, Vice Chair – firstname.lastname@example.org
Representative John Barrett – email@example.com
Representative Natalie Blais – firstname.lastname@example.org
Representative Michelle DuBois – email@example.com
Representative Ken Gordon – firstname.lastname@example.org
Representative Jon Hecht – email@example.com
Senator Edward Kennedy – firstname.lastname@example.org
Representative Christina Minicucci – email@example.com
Representative Tram Nguyen – firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Jim Welch – email@example.com
Representative Matt Muratore – firstname.lastname@example.org
Representative Michael Soter – email@example.com
Senator Dean Tran – firstname.lastname@example.org