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Tonight, October 19, at 7:00pm, residents in Marshfield, Massachusetts, will be asked at a special town meeting to vote on two of three proposed dog ordinances, Articles 1, 2 and 3.  We are grateful that after the American Kennel Club’s (AKC’s) initial legislative alert and subsequent contacts were made with town officials, Article 3 regarding “breeder licenses” was pulled from the agenda, noting that additional information and input will be sought before considering it again at a town meeting next spring.

In addition to the explanation provided in the town warrant that an animal overpopulation exists in Marshfield, town officials hosted a cable program on Friday, October 16, 2020, to share challenges with animal hoarding and to question why the state legislature has not required pet shops to source animals solely from animal shelters or rescue organizations to assist homeless animals.

Respectfully, these are difficult, multi-faceted issues that deserve the attention of Marshfield’s residents.  Animal hoarding disorder is a complex mental illness with a high rate of recidivism when left untreated.  Massachusetts does have a list of local hoarding taskforces that provide resources.

We share concerns regarding population issues that result in homeless dogs. In fact, breed rescue is a strong and longstanding part of the hobby breeder tradition.  We have one of the largest rescue networks in the country.  Club members often engage in rescue activities, and Massachusetts’ legal definition of “personal kennel” recognizes their community service.

Before voting on Article 1, which seeks to require pet shops to only source dogs and cats from animal rescues and shelters, Marshfield residents deserve additional information.  

  • Article 1 proposes a definition of “animal rescue” that is inconsistent with state law’s definition of “organization or rescue organization” and prevents Massachusetts breeders from continuing to engage in rescue activities. We would like to see this fixed prior to a town vote.
  • A similar measure limiting pet choice in California went into effect two years ago and resulted in a number of negative consequences, such as an uptick in both the number of sick animals sold and the number of organizations claiming to be rescues but proven to be covers for sales of puppies from out-of-state sources. Moreover, the Iowa Attorney General has filed charges to shut down such a national “puppy laundering” ring for selling puppies as “rescues” and skirting consumer protection laws.
  • Proponents of similar state legislation for Massachusetts have asked individual towns that do not have a pet shop to adopt this measure, after a legislative committee determined SB 175/HB 800 was problematic. Instead, they released an alternative proposal, which is currently pending, that enhances consumer protections and promotes pet health irrespective of the source of the animal.
  • According to multiple sources, the United States has a dog shortage problem. Some animal rescue organizations are actively importing animals into the United States, resulting in problems.  Sales of sick dogs from Mexico resulted in calls for better regulation of dog rescue groups claiming the dogs were rescued from California “no kill” shelters.  Massachusetts’ Tufts Veterinary Medical School has published studies stating, “not everyone transporting dogs to Massachusetts is doing basic things you assume everyone would do—sometimes not even vaccinating animals, which is a significant public-health concern.”  The United States Centers for Disease Control last year issued a ban on dogs imported from Egypt due to rabies transmission.  According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), state authorities are seeing disease risk increases in imported dogs.  In May, the federal “Healthy Dog Importation Act,” which is supported by AVMA and AKC, was filed to ensure importation of healthy animals for rehoming.
  • Due to infectious disease and other concerns, Massachusetts adopted new oversight regulations for all animal shelters and rescue organizations in March of this year.

Efforts by the American Kennel Club and our affiliated clubs reflect our commitment to healthy dogs and protected consumers as recognized and trusted experts in canine health, breeding, and training, and in promoting responsible dog ownership.  Together with our 113 affiliated Massachusetts clubs, which comprise thousands of members, AKC strongly supports the humane treatment of all dogs, including an adequate and nutritious diet, clean water and living conditions, regular veterinary care, kind and responsive human companionship, and appropriate training.  Our Canine Health Foundation has raised and dedicated more than $58 million supporting veterinary research benefiting all dogs.  In 2019, AKC licensed and sanctioned 494 Massachusetts events to strengthen the human canine bond.  More than 69,000 dogs participated.  Except for breed conformation, dogs of all types performed in agility, rally, dock diving, obedience, trick dog, and other performance events.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  1. Massachusetts dog owners are encouraged to contact the board of selectmen at marshfield_selectmen@townofmarshfield.org and thank them for withdrawing Article 3, “breeder license” from tonight’s vote.
  1. Massachusetts dog owners are encouraged to share the harmful consequences of pet retail bans, Article 1, with family and friends who reside in Marshfield and may be voting tonight.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Contact AKC’s Government Relations Department at doglaw@akc.org.

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact us at enewsletter@akc.org
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