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Monday, October 26, 2015

Last week, AKC Government Relations (AKC GR) published information regarding the upcoming meeting of the Joint Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Committee of the Massachusetts legislature.  Since then, additional bills have been added to the committee’s agenda.  Two of the newly-added bills, SB 443 and HB 634, may prove problematic.  AKC GR encourages all concerned Massachusetts residents to contact the members of the committee, respectfully express their concerns, and request they not pass SB 443 and HB 634 as currently written. 

AKC Concerned with SB 443; Continues to Support HB 649
Senate Bill 443 would exempt privately operated animal shelters and rescue organizations from licensure requirements currently required of pet shop operators under Chapter 129, Section 39A of the Massachusetts General Laws.  AKC GR believes that Commonwealth oversight of shelters and rescues is a reasonable step toward protecting animals kept for sale at shelters and rescues, the people who purchase them, and the public’s health and safety.  Therefore, AKC is concerned that as introduced, Senate Bill 443 would allow shelters, rescues, and/or businesses and facilities that host business on behalf of those operations, to be exempt from reasonable government oversight.  Additionally, AKC continues to support HB 649, which is also scheduled to be heard by the committee on October 28.  HB 649 seeks to remedy the problems associated with the importation of animals intended to supply shelters and rescues by mandating registration with the MA Department of Agricultural Resources and imposing operational requirements. 

Why AKC is Concerned with HB 634
House Bill 634 seeks to provide Department of Agricultural Resources oversight of pet groomers.  In addition to state-run testing and licensure requirements, pet grooming facilities will be subject to yearly inspections.  AKC is concerned with several provisions of HB 634.  First, the bill describes a “pet groomer” as “an individual who clips or styles a pet for financial remuneration.”  Without further clarification, this expansive definition will likely apply to professional show dog handlers, making them subject to the same oversight requirements as pet groomers.  The AKC believes that, because professional handlers’ operations are categorically different than those of pet groomers, HB 634 should specifically exempt professional show dog handlers from the definition of pet groomer.  Furthermore, HB 634 would prohibit the use of cage and box dryers by pet groomers.  By and large, using cage and box dryers has a safe track record and helps ensure pet groomers’ efficiency.  Prohibiting their safe use will negatively impact pet groomer’s operations.  Instead, and especially because the bill also allows sanctions for gross negligence by pet groomers, which would cover the unsafe use of any tool, AKC encourages the removal of the prohibition on the use of cage and box dryers. 

WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Dog owners in Massachusetts are strongly encouraged to contact the members of the Joint Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee and respectfully request that SB 443 and HB 634 not be approved as currently written.  (Note: AKC is also urging support of HB 649 and SB 444 at the same committee meeting.) 

Senate Members

State Senator Anne M. Gobi, Senate Chair
Phone: 617-722-1540
Email: anne.gobi@masenate.gov

State Senator Michael F. Rush, Senate Vice Chair
Phone: 617-722-1348
Email: Mike.Rush@masenate.gov

State Senator James B. Eldridge
Phone: 617-722-1120
Email: Mike.Rush@masenate.gov

State Senator James E. Timilty
Phone: 617 722-1222
Email: James.Timilty@masenate.gov

State Senator Thomas M. McGee
Phone: 617-722-1350
Email: Thomas.McGee@masenate.gov

State Senator Robert H. Hedlund
Phone: 617-722-1646
Email: Robert.Hedlund@masenate.gov

House Members

Representative Paul A. Schmid, III, House Chair
Phone: 617-722-2210
Email: Paul.Schmid@mahouse.gov

Representative Brian R. Mannal, House Vice Chair
Phone: 617-722-2210
Email: Brian.Mannal@mahouse.gov

Representative Robert M. Koczera
Phone: 617-722-2582
Email: Robert.Koczera@mahouse.gov

Representative Carolyn C. Dykema
Phone: 617-722-2680
Email: Carolyn.Dykema@mahouse.gov

Representative Mary S. Keefe
Phone: 617-722-2210
Email: Mary.Keefe@mahouse.gov  

Representative Christine P. Barber
Phone: 617-722-2430
Email: Christine.Barber@mahouse.gov

Representative James M. Kelcourse
Phone: 617-722-2130
Email: james.kelcourse@mahouse.gov

Representative James M. Cantwell
Phone: 617-722-2140
Email: James.Cantwell@mahouse.gov

Representative Josh S. Cutler
Phone: 617-722-2210
Email: Josh.Cutler@mahouse.gov

Representative Jay D. Livingstone
Phone: 617-722-2396
Email: Jay.Livingstone@mahouse.gov

Representative Donald R. Berthiaume, Jr. 
Phone: 617-722-2090
Email: Donald.Berthiaume@mahouse.gov

For more information, contact AKC’s Government Relations Department at (919) 816-3720, or email doglaw@akc.org.  

Additional bills have been added to the Joint Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Committee’s October 28 agenda. Two of the newly-added bills, SB 443 and HB 634, may prove problematic. AKC GR encourages all concerned Massachusetts residents to contact the members of the committee, respectfully express their concerns, and request they not pass SB 443 and HB 634 as currently written.

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