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Massachusetts Bill Limits Keeping Animals Outdoors, Introduces Guardianship Language Into State Law

(Thursday, March 01, 2012)

Massachusetts House Bill 2809 seeks to unnecessarily and severely limit keeping dogs outdoors, and seeks to introduce guardianship language into Massachusetts statutory law when referring to animal ownership. Both the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners oppose HB 2809. Concerned Massachusetts dog breeders and owners should contact members of the Joint Judiciary Committee and urge them to not move the bill forward when it is considered on Tuesday, March 6, 2012. Anyone with concerns about this bill is encouraged to attend the hearing and testify in opposition to the bill.

The American Kennel Club strongly supports the humane treatment of dogs, including an adequate and nutritious diet, clean water, clean living conditions, regular veterinary care, kind and responsible human companionship, and training in appropriate behavior. The AKC also supports reasonable and enforceable laws that protect the welfare and health of purebred dogs and do not restrict the rights of breeders and owners who take their responsibilities seriously.
AKC is concerned with several aspects of HB 2809, including:

  • Requiring outdoor pens/enclosures to meet a rigid engineering-based space requirement. Engineering-based standards are difficult and costly to comply with and are a burden to enforce. A better alternative would be performance-based standards that require outdoor pens to have appropriate space for exercise, while taking into account the breed, age, and health status of the dog kept therein.
  • Imposing a vague and potentially dangerous standard for tethered dogs. In addition to requiring that a tether must be attached to a property fitted collar or harness, the bill also requires that enough room between the collar and the dog's throat must be provided so that two adult fingers may fit. This vague standard is dangerous, as it may prove much easier for dogs to slip out of collars with so much leeway as the bill provides. A better alternative would clarify that enough room must be present between the collar and the dog's throat to keep the dog secured comfortably and without threat to the health of the animal.
  • Mandating that no dog may be left securely maintained outdoors between 11:00 PM and 7:00 AM. The unintended consequences of this mandate, which does not take into account accepted practices of animal husbandry traditionally provided the various breeds or types of dogs, the diversity of facilities and locations in which dogs are kept, and other restrictions already provided by Massachusetts law, will adversely impact breeders and sport enthusiasts alike. The AKC recommends the removal of this provision.

The bill also uses the term "guardian." This is of paramount concern to the American Kennel Club. The AKC believes that using the term "guardian" rather than "owner" may actually reduce the legal status and value of dogs as property. As a result, no one may be legally bound to take responsibility for the dog or properly care for it. A more appropriate alternative would remove all instances and variations of the word "guardian" from the legislation. Click here for more information about AKC's position on the dangers of guardianship.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Concerned dog breeders and owners in Massachusetts are strongly encouraged to attend the March 6 meeting of the Joint Judiciary Committee and testify in opposition to HB 2809.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Joint Judiciary Committee
1:00PM
Room A-2
Massachusetts State House
24 Beacon St.
Boston, MA 02108

Everyone concerned with the potential consequences of HB 2809 is strongly encouraged to contact the members of the Joint Judiciary Committee and urge them to not move the bill forward until all issues with the bill are addressed.

SENATE MEMBERS:

Senator Cynthia Stone Creem, Senate Chair
State House
Room 405
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-1639
Fax: 617-722-1266
Email: Cynthia.Creem@masenate.gov

Senator Gale D. Candaras, Senate Vice Chair
State House
Room 309
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-1291
Fax: 617-722-1014
Email: Gale.Candaras@masenate.gov

Senator Patricia D. Jehlen
State House
Room 513
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-1578
Fax: 617-722-1117
Email: Patricia.Jehlen@masenate.gov

Senator John F. Keenan
State House
Room 413B
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-1494
Fax: 617-722-1055
Email: John.Keenan@masenate.gov

Senator Thomas M. McGee
State House
Room 109C
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-1350
Email: Thomas.McGee@masenate.gov

Senator Richard J. Ross
State House
Room 520
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-1555
Fax: 617-722-1054
Email: Richard.Ross@masenate.gov

HOUSE MEMBERS:

Representative Eugene L. O'Flaherty, House Chair 
State House
Room 136
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2396
Fax: 617-722-2819
Email: Gene.OFlaherty@mahouse.gov

Representative John V. Fernandes, House Vice Chair
State House
Room 136
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2396
Fax: 617-626-0706
Email: John.Fernandes@mahouse.gov

Representative Colleen M. Garry
State House
Room 238
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2380
Fax: 617-722-2847
Email: Colleen.Garry@mahouse.gov

Representative Sean Curran
State House
Room 473B
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2263
Fax: 617-626-0678
Email: Sean.Curran@mahouse.gov

Representative Carlos Henriquez
State House
Room 33
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2060
Email: Carlos.Henriquez@mahouse.gov

Representative Russell E. Holmes
State House
Room 254
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2220
Fax: 617-626-0205
Email: Russell.Holmes@mahouse.gov

Representative Sheila C. Harrington
State House
Room 237
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2305
Fax: 617-626-0199
Email: sheila.harrington@mahouse.gov

Representative Kevin J. Murphy
State House
Room 172
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2877
Fax: 617-626-0514
Email: Kevin.Murphy@mahouse.gov

Representative Angelo J. Puppolo, Jr. 
State House
Room 540
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2090
Fax: 617-722-2848
Email: Angelo.Puppolo@mahouse.gov

Representative Christopher M. Markey
State House
Room 155
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2450
Fax: 617-626-0250
Email: Christopher.Markey@mahouse.gov

Representative Daniel B. Winslow 
State House
Room 33
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2060
Fax: 617-626-0296
Email: Daniel.Winslow@mahouse.gov

For more information, contact AKC's Government Relations Department at (919) 815-3720, or email doglaw@akc.org; or the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners at info@massfeddogs.org.