On Wednesday, November 17, more than 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 virtual public hearing is scheduled to start at 2pm. The American Kennel Club Government Relations Department (AKC GR) has tracked most of these bills during prior legislative sessions when they were considered by various committees.
SUPPORT PROTECTING RESEARCH ANIMALS:
- HB 901, HB 890, and SB 613 would require research facilities and product testing facilities to assess the health of a dog or cat no longer in a study to determine if permanent placement can be made by an animal shelter instead of euthanasia.
- HB 966 and SB 584 would prohibit the use of animals in research if alternative methods are available.
AKC recognizes that protecting biomedical research practices is crucial to developing new ways to identify, prevent, treat, or eradicate disease, and to improve human and animal health. Where appropriate, retired healthy research and teaching animals should be rehomed, either through rehoming programs at the university/research facility, by groups with special expertise in rehoming research animals, or by qualified outside groups selected by the animals’ owner.
OPPOSE ELIMINATION OF CONSUMER PROTECTIONS:
- SB 581 would inappropriately remove the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources’ authority to regulate privately-operated animal shelters and rescue organizations. In 2020, the agency adopted 13 pages of regulation to address sick, diseased and behaviorally challenged animals being re-homed by these organizations.
- HB 306, HB 384, and SB 230 would require Massachusetts licensed pet shops to only provide the public with dogs and cats sourced from animal shelter or rescue organizations. The number of puppies produced by responsible breeders does not satisfy demand. 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.
CONCERNING PROPOSED CHANGES TO CURRENT ANIMAL WELFARE & SAFETY LAWS:
- SB 585 would unreasonably expand the definition of “kennel” to a place where one or more dogs are bred on a residential property and require inspection, fees, and licensure. This would contradict an ordinary person’s understanding that a kennel is a pack or collection of dogs on a single premise regulated by state law and municipal ordinances, and vastly expand the number of regulated facilities.
- SB 551 would create an advisory board, with a shelter and rescue coordinator serving as chair, to oversee various functions of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. A formal advisory board with permanent members chaired by a shelter and rescue coordinator is not necessary for this agency to function effectively.
- HB 917 would undercut current regulations that require imported animals to be quarantined in an isolation room at a facility, instead allowing the animal to be kept with a foster family. This may reduce compliance and increase the risk of communicable disease spread.
- HB 888 appears to grant municipalities the authority to enact by-laws governing hunting and promotes non-lethal animal population control methods. Under current law, authorities or persons having control and charge of parks, commons, reservations, or other lands decide whether to permit hunting and under what conditions it may be conducted.
OTHER BILLS UNDER REVIEW INCLUDE:
- SB 583 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 582 would require dog day care facilities to ensure continuous animal supervision or risk license revocation.
- SB 595 and HB 949 would require the Department of Agricultural Resources to adopt regulations overseeing boarding kennels and day care facilities.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: AKC GR strongly encourages those who reside in Massachusetts to email JENRA before November 17 at JointCommittee.Environment@malegislature.gov with these three recommendations: 1) protect research animals, 2) oppose the elimination of consumer protections, and 3) 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 verbally testify virtually before the committee, must complete this form before Monday, November 15, 2021 at 5pm.