In addition to bills to be considered by the Joint Judiciary Committee, the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture is also scheduled to consider several dog-related bills on Tuesday, September 12. The American Kennel Club (AKC) and its Massachusetts federation, the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners (MassFed), support some of these bills while opposing others. The AKC strongly encourages all concerned Massachusetts residents to contact the members of the Joint Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Committee and make recommendations in line with these positions.
TO SUPPORT WITH MINOR AMENDMENTS
House Bill 3561 – This bill would establish comprehensive oversight over the importation of animals for rescue, shelter, foster, adoption, or remote sale. It would require organizations that, on their own behalf or as a facilitator for others, engage in the adoption of animals via interstate importation, to secure an import registration with the Commonwealth. Carriers would also be required to be registered. Registered organizations must keep complete operational records, and must notify the state of shipments. All dogs and cats imported by registered organizations must be accompanied by a certificate of veterinary inspection issued within 10 days of importation. Certain violations could result in fines of up to $500 per offense and/or removal of animals from the custody of violating organizations.
Public health threats associated with unregulated interstate and international rescue dog importation are well documented. H.3561 seeks to address these issues with comprehensive oversight similar to ways other New England states have. For these reasons, AKC supports H.3561 with further clarifications that remove vague language and ensure that breeders who sell animals they bred are not subject to the provisions of this bill.
Senate Bill 470 – This bill seeks to prohibit pet shops located in Massachusetts from selling dogs and cats, unless they offer only dogs and cats owned by public or private charitable nonprofit animal shelters, humane societies, or animal rescue organizations for adoption. SB 470 provides an exemption for pet shops offering for sale dogs or cats born and raised by the owner of the pet shop in a separate facility.
This bill is part of a nationwide legislative agenda aimed at limiting the production of purpose-bred dogs by removing from the market the most regulated, health-tested and temperament-checked sources of pets, while promoting pets from sources that lack this oversight.
The American Kennel Club emphatically supports freedom of choice in selecting a pet. AKC actively promotes efforts to ensure that people are educated, understand the demands of responsible ownership and have access to a pet that is right for them. AKC strongly opposes any measure that restricts choice by compelling people and/or retailers to obtain pets solely from shelter or rescue distributors. Because it runs counter to these principles, AKC opposes Senate Bill 470. MassFed also opposes S.470.
Senate Bill 458 – This bill seeks to specifically exempt privately operated animal shelters or rescue organizations from the licensing requirements and regulations imposed on pet shops. AKC believes that these organizations, which engage in commerce, sell pets from sources that lack standards and oversight, can impact the public health, and should be subject to some level of regulatory oversight and operational standards. MassFed also opposes S.458.
Senate Bill 460 – This bill seeks to impose numerical whelping limits. Instead of quantitative limits imposed by legislation, AKC believes qualitative health decisions, including whether dogs are of proper health for breeding, should be determined by an owner in consult with a dog’s veterinarian.
In addition to vague provisions, S.460 also seeks to create specific requirements for initial license inspections, and requires renewal inspections to be conducted of kennel licensee premises. It would prohibit licensing authorities from issuing kennel licenses to anyone convicted of animal cruelty, devocalization, or animal fighting offenses; and would mandate that licenses have terms no longer than one year in length and cost a minimum of $100. S.460 would also increase significantly increase license-related fines, from no more than $250 (current law) to not less than $500 for license suspensions; and to not less than $2,500 for those operating without a license or after a license is revoked.
MassFed also opposes S.460.
House Bill 407/Senate Bill 406 – These bills seek to mandate the creation of regulations for boarding kennels and daycare facilities for dogs, including home-based boarding kennels and daycare facilities. MassFed opposes these bills.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Concerned Massachusetts residents are encouraged to contact the members of the Joint Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Committee to express support of H.3561 with amendments, opposition to S.470 and S.458, and serious concerns with the quantitative breeding limit contained in S.460.
State Senator Anne M. Gobi, Chair
State Senator Michael F. Rush, Vice Chair
State Senator James B. Eldridge
State Senator Thomas M. McGee
State Senator Julian Cyr
State Senator Ryan C. Fattman
Representative Smitty Pignatelli, Chair
Representative RoseLee Vincent, Vice Chair
Representative Thomas M. Petrolati
Representative Robert M. Koczera
Representative Mary S. Keefe
Representative John C. Velis
Representative Christine P. Barber
Representative Dylan Fernandes
Representative Jack Lewis
Representative Donald R. Berthiaume, Jr.
Representative James M. Kelcourse
Massachusetts residents are also encouraged to attend the September 12th hearing and express their concerns in person. The hearing will take place at 10AM in Room A-2 of the State House, 24 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02133. Please note that 32 bills are on the agenda.