At its upcoming hybrid public hearing at 11AM on Monday, May 15, 2023, the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Agriculture will consider multiple animal-related bills, with three bills specifically impacting dogs. The full agenda with links to bill text can be viewed here.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) encourages all concerned Massachusetts residents to contact the members of the committee to express opposition to S.491, regarding the creation of a statewide animal advisory board; and to share thoughts on H.95 and S.496, which seek to exclude dogs from definitions of farming and livestock.
OPPOSE SB 491 – ANIMAL ADVISORY BOARD
SB 491 would create an animal advisory board that meets quarterly to guide the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture (MDAR) on issues relating, but not limited, to shelters, animal control officers, animal inspectors, and training and best practices. The permanent appointees to the board would represent veterinarians, rescues, importers, animal control officers, and attorneys with animal welfare experience. Annual reports would be made to the legislature.
AKC does not believe a formal advisory board, chaired by a shelter and rescue coordinator, is necessary for MDAR to function effectively. In addition, purview over “training and best practices” is overly broad given the limited representation on the proposed board.
BILLS OF INTEREST
In 2021, a Massachusetts town attempted to shut down a dog breeding operation due to an alleged violation of the town’s zoning ordinance that prohibits businesses from operating in residential zones. The owner of the breeding operation sued the town, claiming that they were not subject to local zoning restrictions because they were operating an agricultural business, which state law exempts from local zoning laws. A judge sided with the breeder, and added dogs to the list of species considered livestock. More details on the case may be viewed here. The two bills below would invalidate the court’s ruling.
SB 496 – FARMING DEFINITION
SB 1056 would specifically exclude the raising of dogs for breeding, the raising or keeping of dogs for other commercial use, and the commercial grooming of dogs, from the state’s definition of “farming” and “agriculture”.
HB 95 – LIVESTOCK DEFINITION
HB 95 would amend the state’s definition of “farming” and “agriculture” by inserting the words “but, not dogs or cats” after defining both as “the raising of livestock, including horses,…”.
AKC encourages all concerned Massachusetts dog owners to share their views on SB 1056 and HB 95.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Concerned Massachusetts residents are encouraged to contact the Joint Committee on Agriculture to express opposition to SB 491. Submit your comments, addressed to Chairs Gobi and Schmid, by email at jointcmte-Agriculture@malegislature.gov.
Anyone wishing to speak virtually at the hearing may sign up before Thursday, May 11, 2023, at 5PM to testify by completing this form. You will receive an invitation to participate directly from the committee one day before the hearing. Those wishing to testify in person must sign up at 11AM in Gardner Auditorium, 24 Beacon Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02133.