2017 Legislative Agenda

In January, the Massachusetts General Court began its 2017-2018 session. The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) will continue to support legislation that enhances and improves protections for animals, and to oppose reforms that endanger the welfare of animals in Massachusetts. ARL will keep you updated on the status of legislation impacting animal welfare in Massachusetts. As always, please check this page, Facebook, Twitter, and email alerts as different pieces of legislation progress through the General Court.

Below is a list of the bills that we support and oppose:


S. 1159, H. 2419 – An Act to Protect Animal Welfare and Safety in Cities and Towns (PAWS II) This bill builds upon the PAWS (Protect Animal Welfare and Safety) Act in 2014. The proposed legislation is far reaching and includes: 1. Ensures that ALL abuse is reported, requiring that animal abuse is reported by human service agencies, and the abuse of children, the elderly and the disabled be reported by animal control officers; 2. Add more appropriate penalties to animal control laws that provide non-criminal penalties for violations; 3. Update the animal fighting law to prevent the automatic killing of animal fighting victims; 4. Prohibit discrimination against dog breeds to prevent animal homelessness; 5. Prohibit the drowning of wild and domestic animals – Many are surprised to learn that animals, particularly wildlife, are currently being drowned, which is a cruel and inhumane death.

Sponsors: Senators Montigny and Tarr; Representative Kafka
Status: In Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government

S. 1145, H. 416 – An Act Enhancing the Issuance of Citations for Cruel Conditions for Animals This bill would extend M.G.L. Chapter 140 Section 174E, subpart f(1)’s prohibitions against cruel conditions to include farm animals. Currently the statute is limited to dogs. Expanding the scope of the current law would allow a quick response to situations involving farm animals and prevent animals from being subjected to unsafe and unsanitary conditions.

Sponsors: Senator Montigny, Representatives Dubois and Puppolo
Status: S. 1145 in Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government; H. 416 in Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

S. 1155, H. 1080 – An Act Relating to Puppies & Kittens This bill will protect puppies, kittens, their parents and consumers by: 1. Prohibit the sale of puppies and kittens under eight weeks of age; 2. Improve the “puppy lemon law” to better protect and provide recourse for families who unknowingly purchase a sick puppy or kitten; 3. Require the public announcement of rules and regulations for certain Massachusetts breeders; 4. Ensure that Massachusetts pets at pet shops only sell puppies and kittens from breeders who adhere to minimum animal health and welfare standards.

Sponsors: Senator Spilka and Representative Benson
Status: In Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government

S. 464, H. 2918, H. 3021 – An Act to Extend Poaching Regulations Current penalties for poaching in Massachusetts are antiquated, this bill would bring penalties in line with other states by elevating fines, jail time, and hunting and fishing license suspensions.

Sponsors: Senator Moore, Representatives Ferrante, Ehrlich, and Atkins
Status: S. 464 and H. 2918 in Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture; H. 3021 in Joint Committee on the Judiciary

S. 533, H. 554 – An Act Concerning the Use of Certain Insurance Underwriting Guidelines Pertaining to Dogs Harbored Upon the Insured Property This bill is designed to prevent insurance companies from denying, canceling, failing to renew, or charging an increased premium for homeowners or renters insurance based solely on the breed of dog owned.

Sponsors: Senator Gobi and Representative Lewis
Status: In Joint Committee on Financial Services


H. 3212 – An Act to Protect Pets in the Commonwealth Despite the title, this bill actually strips localities of the right to protect consumers, regulate animal welfare, and promote humane businesses by: 1. Eliminating the authority of local governments to pass ordinances relating to the sale of pets from inhumane sources in their communities; 2. Uses language from legitimate animal protection bills (S. 1155 and H. 1080), to weaken and render it ineffective at protecting animals 3. Conflicts with pending Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) regulations; 4. Restricts consumers’ ability to achieve recourse for being sold a sick puppy or kitten.

Sponsor: Representative Cusack
Status: In Joint Committee on Municipalities & Regional Government

S. 433, S. 445, H. 420, H. 469 – Sunday Hunting Legislation During each legislative session, a number of bills are filed that would lift the Sunday hunting ban statewide. 86 Percent of Massachusetts residents support the Sunday ban, while hunters represent just 1 percent of the state’s population. This bills prioritize a small minority over an overwhelming majority of Massachusetts residents who do not hunt yet enjoy non-consumptive uses of nature and wildlife.

Sponsors: Senators Gobi and Straus; Representatives Frost and Humason
Status: In Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

Take Action!

Click here to learn more about and to register for 2017 MA Humane Lobby Day.