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Category: Advocacy
4 Facts About Captive Big Cats

We know that big cats, most notably tigers, have come up as a fresh topic of conversation.

Sensational stories may be entertaining, but the animals at the center of these stories are often subjects of misinformation that further endangers them.

Here are 4 facts about captive big cats that you should know:

  1. Big cats are wild animals, not pets.

Baby tiger and lion cubs can look a lot like their domestic feline friends. However, this is short lived. Tigers can weigh 100lbs by the time they are six months old, and adults weigh 300-600lbs depending on the subspecies.

Adult tigers eat an all meat diet averaging from 13-15lbs of meat a day, although in the wild tigers are more likely to eat a larger kill every few days.

Tigers are hunters and can seriously injure untrained (and even trained) humans. Often times, private ownership results in these animals having to be surrendered to capable facilities when care of the animal becomes dangerous.

  1. More tigers live in captivity in the United States than live in the wild.

Tigers are an endangered species. It is estimated that only 3,900 of these majestic animals live in wild habitats in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Russia and China.

Meanwhile, anywhere from 5,000-10,000 tigers live in captivity in the US. Much of the increase in captive population comes from intentional breeding, meant for monetary gain.

Cubs are often taken from their mothers immediately, limiting socialization and development that would naturally happen in the wild.

These tigers are unsuitable to be released into a wild habitat, and must spend their lives in captivity.

  1. Not all habitats are created equal.

Cat owners understand that although cats may like small spaces, such as boxes, they need adequate space and enrichment.

Big cats, like tigers, are no different.

Tigers need adequate space, shelter, and food.

Tigers in the wild often have home territories of hundreds to thousands of square miles.

Tigers in roadside zoos may have small enclosures, while tigers in other zoological parks or sanctuaries may have large habitats with enrichment.

  1. The laws relating to ownership and sale of big cats vary by state.

While some states prohibit ownership of big cats, others require a license or even have no prohibitions.

Current federal law only prohibits selling these animals across state or national lines, allowing individuals to sell or transfer within state lines as long as it is legal.

Even across state lines, those with specific federal licenses can transfer animals.

There are federal proposals, including the Big Cat Safety Act, that would close existing loopholes and create nationwide standards for big cat ownership.

This pending legislation would prohibit all public contact with big cats, and require local animal control and law enforcement to be notified of all owned big cats.

Public safety is at risk when there are big cats in unsuitable facilities, both to those visiting the facility and the surrounding areas.

Know before you go…

Before planning a family trip to see big cats in a facility, do your research.

Humane practices will not allow for the public to interact with big cats, and will not force the animals to engage in shows for public entertainment.

The USDA conducts inspections of facilities that exhibit to the public, and these inspection records are public.

ARL has advocated for these records to be kept public so consumers can research those that claim to provide services to animals.


Update: 2020 Virtual Lobby Day for Animals Postponed

UPDATE: This event has been indefinitely postponed due to ongoing actions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. We are hoping to reschedule the event before the end of the legislative session on July 31, 2020. Thank you for your understanding, please stay tuned for further updates.

State House suspends sponsored events due to COVID-19 precautions

Due to on-going precautionary measures put in place in regards to the continued spread of COVID-19, the 2020 Lobby Day for Animals that was scheduled for March 24 at the Massachusetts State House has been postponed.

In light of this postponement, ARL and its animal welfare partners have decided to take Lobby Day in a virtual direction.

As you may know, the Commonwealth has taken a number of actions to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The State House informed our coalition late yesterday that all sponsored events—including Lobby Day for Animals—are being postponed for at least the next 30 days.

Ideally, we hope to reschedule this important event before the end of the legislative session on July 31. However, that will of course remain dependent upon the ongoing developments related to COVID-19, the potential for large events to impact public safety, as well as the ability of the State House to accommodate the number of events that will need to be rescheduled.

We will be cancelling the appointments we have made with your legislators, however, you can still take action for animals! 

  1. Please contact your state senator about several priority animal protection bills referred to Senate committees.
  1. Please contact your state representative about several priority animal protection bills referred to House committees.
  2. We will be hosting a Virtual Day of Action for Animals on Tuesday, March 24, including a lunchtime webinar and afternoon call-in to your legislators. Please register to join us for the webinar.

Take Action for MA Animal Protection Legislation

Join ARL at 2020 Lobby Day for Animals

Right now, Massachusetts legislatures are sifting through thousands of bills and deciding which ones should become law in the Commonwealth.

These bills cover everything from transportation, healthcare, education, animal welfare, among many others.

During the 2019-2020 legislative session, more than 90 animal welfare bills were filed, and the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is asking for your help in advocating on behalf of animals so the bills with the most impact can be passed.

It is crucial that elected officials hear from YOU – the people they represent about the issues most important to them.

Have Your Voice Heard

We invite you to join ARL, along with other animal welfare advocates, at the Massachusetts State Houses for the 2020 Lobby Day for Animals on March 24 to encourage law makers to take action to protect animals throughout the Commonwealth.

To register for this important event click here!

Advocating to legislators may be something you’re used to, or maybe it’ll be your first time. Regardless of your experience, it’s important to remember that animals cannot speak for themselves and rely on you to be their voice.

 We’ve Got You Covered

All attendees will get information before the big day, as well as a “how-to” day of and the ability to ask any questions.

The Legislature will see thousands of phone calls, emails, and letters over the next few months, so please join us for Lobby Day for Animals to ensure that animal welfare legislation receives the attention it deserves.

The Time is Now

The Massachusetts Legislature meets in a two-year cycle.

Our elected officials do most of their important work before July 31 of the second year of the session – which means that July 31, 2020, will be the deadline for controversial matters to be considered and voted on.

Legislation has to pass both the House and Senate with the same language, which can take days, weeks, or even months of conversation and compromise between legislators.

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) has a robust legislative agenda, focused on improving the lives of animals both in habitats and homes.

ARL supports a wide array of legislation supporting kennel regulations, improving citation enforcement for animals kept in cruel condition, ensuring animals from puppy mills do not find their way into Massachusetts pet stores, just to name a few.

We encourage you to take a look at ARL’s legislative agenda to see what bills we support and oppose.

There is strength in numbers and we are their voice!

Lobby Day Information

Lobby Day for Animals will be held at the Massachusetts State House on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 and will being at 10:15 a.m.

There is a $10 charge for breakfast, lunch and to help offset the cost of the event. You must also register to take part in this event.

To register, click this link: https://secure.everyaction.com/OD7Xo7xMYEaCqDiou4_aQw2 


Animals need your voice today!

The Massachusetts Legislature operates on a two-year timeline, with a deadline of February 5, 2020 to move bills forward from initial committees. The following bills are on ARL’s Legislative Agenda and need your help to move forward.


S. 989: An Act enhancing the issuance of citations for cruel conditions for animals
Allows law enforcement to issue citations for all animals in “cruel conditions” to intervene before it rises to the level of felony animal cruelty.

Joint Committee on Municipalities

House Chair, Representative James O’Day: (617) 722-2090 James.O’Day@mahouse.gov

Senate Chair, Senator Rebecca Rausch: (617) 722-1555 Becca.Rausch@masenate.gov


H.1822: An Act enhancing the issuance of citations for cruel conditions for animals
Allows law enforcement to issue citations for all animals in “cruel conditions” to intervene before it rises to the level of felony animal cruelty.


H.1774/S.114: An Act protecting the health and safety of puppies and kittens in cities and towns
Regulates the operation of boarding kennels and daycare facilities, as well as prohibits roadside sales and sales of puppies and kittens under 8 weeks.

Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure

House Chair, Representative Tackey Chan: (617) 722-2014 Tackey.Chan@mahouse.gov

Senate Chair, Senator Paul Feeney: (617) 722-1222 Paul.Feeney@masenate.gov


S.175/H.800: An Act banning the retail sale of cats and dogs in pet shops
Prohibits the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits from pet shops unless the animals come from shelters or rescue organizations.


TAKE ACTION: Contact the committee chairs and your legislators to ask them to support these bills out of committee!

Joint Committee on the Judiciary

House Chair, Representative Claire Cronin: (617) 722-2396 Claire.Cronin@mahouse.gov   

Senate Chair, Senator James Eldridge: (617) 722-1120 James.Eldridge@masenate.gov


Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act (PACT) Signed into Law

President Trump signed into law the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, or the PACT Act. The PACT Act is the first felony animal cruelty charge at the federal level.

The PACT Act may be the first felony animal cruelty law at the federal level, but it is a continuation of work that began almost 20 years ago. In 1999, Congress passed a law prohibiting creation, sale, and ownership of so called “animal crush videos.” These videos, a cruel and horrific depiction, were not illegal under any federal law. This 1999 law sought to stop the spread of these videos by targeting the videos themselves. However, there were concerns about the wording of the original law, and in 2010, the Supreme Court of the United States found the law was unconstitutional on the basis that the wording was broad and vague. After this setback, Congress passed the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010. This law more narrowly prohibited the creation and distribution of such videos, but failed to criminalize the underlying animal cruelty in these videos.

Animal advocates have pushed for years to include these protections at the federal level, and finally, in 2019, we have a federal felony for the worst kinds of animal cruelty. This law prohibits conduct where mammals are “purposely crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury…” Federal laws have limits as to what they can reach. To be a federal crime, it has to affect interstate commerce, or occur on federal lands. What this means practically is that many animal cruelty cases, which do not go across state lines, and may not include interstate commerce, can only be prosecuted at the state level. However, the omnipresent use of the internet brings “interstate commerce” into our lives almost every day.  

Animal cruelty is illegal in all 50 states. However, this law gives law enforcement another tool to stop the most horrendous of acts towards animals, often done for monetary gain.

ARL Advocacy in Action
The Animal Rescue League of Boston continues to support legislation that enhances and improves protections for animals. Click here to view our 2019-2020 Legislative Agenda.

 


Committee Hearings Continue on Beacon Hill

This past week the Joint Committees on the Judiciary and Financial Services both convened to hear testimony on more than 40 bills, and the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) was present for both sessions to advocate on behalf of animals throughout the Commonwealth.

The Joint Committee on the Judiciary heard testimony regarding S. 989: An Act Enhancing the Issuance of Citations for Cruel Conditions for Animals, a piece of legislation that ARL is actively supporting.

ARL President Mary Nee addresses the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.

This bill would allow law enforcement to issue citations for animals kept in “cruel conditions” which would include exposure to excessive waste, non-potable water, noxious odors that post a health risk to animals or people, among others.

Right now, the only tool law enforcement has to address animal cruelty is a felony cruelty charge. If passed, this bill would provide an additional resource to address cruelty and would act as a deterrent, rather than a form of punishment.

The Joint Committee on Financial Services heard testimony from ARL regarding three bills – S. 595/H. 1037: An Act Concerning the Use of Certain Insurance Underwriting Guidelines Pertaining to Dogs Harbored Upon the Insured Property.

Simply put, this bill would prohibit homeowners or renters insurance from refusing to issue or renew, cancel or charge an increased rate on a specific breed(s) of dog on the property.

The Committee also heard testimony on H. 1038: An Act to Prohibit Housing Discrimination Against Responsible Dog Owners.

This bill would prohibit condo associations from banning certain types of dogs based on breed/weight/size. Further it would prohibit similar bans on any lease/rental agreements.

Additionally, it would require the Department of Housing and Community Development to establish and maintain a program of pet ownership for those residing in state-aided public housing.

ARL’s testimony highlighted that breed specific legislation and insurance prohibitions are not supported by science – breed bias are often assumptions based on physical characteristics.

Breed has no bearing on individual animal behavior – the most accurate predictor of animal behavior is an individual assessment of the animal, including a check into the pet’s background with training, behavior and social abilities.

ARL believes that like people, dogs are individuals no matter what breed they happen to be, and hopes this important piece of legislation moves favorably out of committee.

Be an Advocate for Animals

With more than 90 animal-related bills filed for this legislative session, this hearing was critical to help move these important animal protection bills forward in the legislative process.

But we can’t do it alone. Your elected officials work for you, so please take a look at ARL’s 2019-2020 legislative agenda, and contact your representatives to show your support for improving laws to protect animals in Massachusetts.


Press Release: Emaciated Puppy Could Be Facing Extensive Surgery

Puppy lost for a month, surrendered to ARL

Charlotte, an 8-month-old mixed-breed puppy, has experienced a lot in her young life, including surviving on her own for a month. Although she’s now in the care of the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL), Charlotte is not only fighting to regain her total trust with humans, but is also grossly underweight and facing fracture repair surgery.

Despite being incredibly sweet, Charlotte has a long road ahead of her. ARL is dedicated to doing everything possible to get her healthy and into a forever home, however, the cost of Charlotte’s care is already in the thousands and ARL is asking for the public’s assistance.

Charlotte came to ARL via Belmont’s Animal Control Officer after she had been lost for approximately a month – it’s miraculous she even survived.

She was only 23 pounds upon her arrival, about half of what she should weigh and is still extremely skittish.

X-rays have indicated a fracture in the balled-end of the femur which connects to the hip joint. She will at least need surgery to remove the fractured part of the bone to alleviate the pain and discomfort – but there are risks involved given that she’s a growing puppy and ARL Shelter Medicine staff do not want this issue to be on-going.

Once a medical plan is established and she undergoes surgery, Charlotte will be recovering for approximately two months and will be constantly monitored and rechecked to avoid any complications.

With a clean bill of health, Charlotte will hopefully be in a new home just in time for the holidays.

Banning Roadside Sales

Charlotte was originally transported from a rescue group in Alabama, but her former owner picked her up at a parking lot in Connecticut just over the Massachusetts border – she was lost just 4 hours after being adopted.

State law mandates a 48-hour quarantine for animals brought over the state line (this was completed when Charlotte arrived at ARL) to properly assess their health and wellbeing. These types of parking lot pickups side-step the mandate and if the animal is ill, threaten harm to other animals they may come in contact with.

When you adopt from a reputable organization like ARL, animals are properly quarantined, medically checked, vaccinated and spayed/neutered before they are adopted. This typically is not the case when an animal is purchased during a roadside sale which also includes ads in the paper, Craigslist, illegal breeders, among others.

Roadside sales are a dangerous practice as the person who buys the animal does not have a clear picture of exactly what they’re getting – and should an issue pop up, the adopter has no recourse for reimbursement to cover medical costs.

S.114, H.1774: An Act Protecting the Health and Safety of Puppies and Kittens in Cities and Towns is currently in committee at the Massachusetts State House, and if passed would ban these types of animal sales.

ARL strongly supports this bill, and urges anyone interested in furthering animal protection law in Massachusetts to contact their elected officials to voice support.

Help Charlotte and Others Like Her

ARL Shelter Medicine provides all levels of high-quality care – from wellness exams to complex surgeries. Our goal is to ensure that animals are healthy and happy, and it’s because of the support from caring and compassionate people like you who make this possible. Please consider a donation to ARL today to help Charlotte and other animals like her.

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Kennel Regulations, Increasing MAF Funds, Blue Hills Forest Take Center Stage at State House

ARL Addresses Joint Committee

On Tuesday, the Joint Committee of Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture convened to hear testimony on nearly two dozen bills, many of which were animal-related.

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) provided testimony on six separate bills, all of which are a part of the organization’s 2019-2020 Legislative Agenda.

While S. 114/H. 1774: An Act protecting the health and safety of puppies and kittens in cities and towns encompasses several elements, including establishing state-wide regulations regarding boarding kennel and daycare facilities; S. 510/H. 3603/H. 812 are all stand-alone bills that specifically address boarding kennel regulations.

The wording of these individual bills may differ slightly, but each aims to establish regulations for boarding kennel and daycare facilities to include staff qualifications and development, provider/dog ratios and interaction, group sizes and supervision, minimum housing and care requirements, indoor and outdoor facility requirements, utilities, dog handling, emergency response protocols and training, insurance, and penalties for violation, among others.

ARL Law Enforcement Director Lt. Alan Borgal shows the committee images of an animal who was mauled at a South Shore boarding facility.

“Right now it is up to the consumer to be their own advocate and to do their own homework,” Dr. Edward Schettino, ARL Vice President of Animal Welfare and Veterinary Services, expressed to the committee. “However, most consumers are unaware of this and trust the facility that they choose to take care of their pet, unknowing of the lack of regulations.”

Earlier this year, ARL launched the Kennel-9 safety campaign, giving pet owners 9 things to consider before boarding their pet in an effort to protect animals and their owners from a potentially dangerous situation.

ARL has unfortunately been involved in numerous incidents at boarding facilities where a lack of oversite, improper facilities or protocols led to injury or even death for animals in their care. Law Enforcement Director Lt. Alan Borgal shared one of these incidents with the panel to show the need for regulations.

The organization feels state-wide regulations are critical to improve safety and quality of care for facilities across the Commonwealth.

Mass Animal Fund

ARL also testified on S.501: An Act to provide additional funding for animal welfare and safety programming.

This measure would provide additional monies to the Mass Animal Fund, an organization which strives to prevent animal homelessness by offsetting costs for vaccination and spay/neuter of homeless dogs and cats, as well as dogs and cats owned by low-income residents, and to assist with training of animal control officers.

ARL is a provider of services for the Mass Animal Fund spay/neuter voucher program and through the Community Surgical Clinic and Spay Waggin’, ARL has provided more than 200 spay/neuter surgeries in the past two years.

If passed, this bill would direct funds collected through administrative fines pursuant to Section 37 of Chapter 129. This would be in addition to donations currently generated through Line 33f on the state income tax form.

Blue Hills Reservation

Finally, ARL also testified on H. 757: An Act to study the health of the Blue Hills Forest and ecology to inform long-term reservation management.

This bill would commission a study and scientific survey on the Blue Hills Reservation to determine why the forest health is in decline.

Be an Advocate for Animals

With more than 90 animal-related bills filed for this legislative session, this hearing was critical to help move these important animal protection bills forward in the legislative process.

But we can’t do it alone. Your elected officials work for you, so please take a look at ARL’s 2019-2020 legislative agenda, and contact your representatives to show your support for improving laws to protect animals in Massachusetts.


ARL Advocates for Banishment of Retail Sale of Dogs/Cats in Pet Shops

On Monday, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) joined fellow animal welfare organizations to address the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure on two pieces of legislation that ARL is actively supporting.

The hearing chambers were standing room only, indicating the passion behind these bills.

The bills were part of a lengthy agenda at the Massachusetts State House, and address two important issues: the retail sale of animals at pet shops, and the inhumane practice of declawing.

For WFXT’s coverage of the hearing click here!

S.175 and H.800 – An Act Banning the Retail Sale of Dogs and Cats in Pet Shops aims to cease the operation by pet stores of obtaining animals from “puppy mills” because they allow the cruelty at the mills to remain hidden from consumers.

“Plain and simple, where pet shops acquire their animals are inhumane,” stated Dr. Edward Schettino, ARL Vice President of Animal Welfare and Veterinary Services. “Although these breeding facilities are inspected by the USDA, the standards are extremely low and continually allow for this inhumane treatment.”

The legislation does not prevent consumers from acquiring a dog, cat, or rabbit from a responsible breeder or shelter or rescue organization. Further, it does not prohibit pet shops from partnering with shelters or rescues to provide animals in their store.

ARL also made public comment on S.169 – An Act Prohibiting Inhumane Feline Declawing.

This proposed bill would prohibit declawing as an elective procedure, simply for the purposes of convenience or to mitigate property destruction.

Under the proposed bill, declawing would only be allowed for “therapeutic purposes”. These would include addressing an existing or recurring infection, disease, injury, or abnormal condition in the claw that jeopardizes the cat’s health as a medical necessity.

Violations of the proposed bill would include fines upward of $2,500 for repeated offenses and the possibility of forfeiture of the animal as well.

ARL believes that declawing a healthy cat is not only inhumane, but may cause the cat a multitude of long-term medical issues.

“We (ARL) are opposed to these needless, elective surgeries which can and do cause unnecessary pain and discomfort that can affect the cat for its entire life,” Dr. Schettino testified.

Get Involved

Government is of course “of the people, by the people, and for the people” and you can have a direct impact on these important bills moving forward in the legislative process.

If you support these measures, contact your elected officials and urge them to further animal protection law in Massachusetts by supporting the proposed bills.

We encourage you to read ARL’s 2019-2020 legislative agenda. See what bills ARL supports and opposes and what you can do to make sure your voice is heard!


ARL Advocates Animal Protection Bills at State House

On Tuesday, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) travelled to the Massachusetts State House to provide testimony on two animal protection bills for the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government.

Committee hearings are an important step for proposed legislation – if the bill is reported favorably by the committee, it will then move on in the legislative process. Click here to see how a bill becomes a law in Massachusetts.

ARL’s first round of testimony focused on S.114/H.1774 – An Act Protecting the Health and Safety of Puppies and Kittens in Cities and Towns. This bill has several components including:

  • Prohibit the sale of puppies and kittens under eight weeks of age;
  • Update laws relating to kennel licensing;
  • End the roadside sale of animals; and
  • Require the establishment of state-wide rules and regulations used for boarding and daycare facilities.

Currently there are no state-wide regulations that govern boarding kennels and animal daycare facilities in Massachusetts, and ARL believes this bill is vital to help keep our pets safe when left in someone else’s hands.

ARL also recently launched The Kennel 9, a new animal safety campaign giving pet owners nine things to consider before boarding their pet.

Testifying in favor of the bill were ARL Vice President of Animal Welfare & Veterinary Services Dr. Edward Schettino and ARL Director of Law Enforcement Lt. Alan Borgal.

Also joining the panel were Auburn Animal Control Officer Aimee Contois, Auburn Director of Development and Inspectional Services Darlene Coyle – Auburn officials worked jointly with ARL in 2018 to remove 61 animals from a hoarding situation in the town.

Lastly, Scituate resident Tracey Siciliano provided testimony pertaining to the need of boarding kennel regulations.

In 2016, Siciliano’s three-year-old Golden Doodle “Ben” suffered fatal injuries after being attacked by a dog belonging to the owner of a Hanover kennel facility, which has since closed. In addition to the dozens of attack wounds, Ben was also suffering from heat stroke. The owner was found “not-guilty” for negligence, due in part to a lack of regulations.

“I believe that regulations and enforcement might have prevented Ben’s death or, at a minimum, regulations could have persuaded a jury to hold the kennel owner responsible for his actions,” Siciliano said. “I urge the legislature to enact this law so that no other family ever has to experience the pain my family has endured from having lost our beloved Ben.”

Cruel Conditions

ARL President Mary Nee and Lt. Borgal testified in favor of S.989, H.1822 – An Act Enhancing the issuance of Citations for Cruel Conditions for Animals. This bill amends MA General Law Ch. 140 Section 174E to include all domestic animals. Currently the law only allows citations for dogs.

This amendment would allow an effective response to problematic and escalating issues including animal hoarding, and farm animal cruelty situations i.e. the 2016 Westport cruelty case.

Citations provide officers a tool to achieve corrective action before a situation rises to a violation of the animal cruelty statute.

Be an Advocate for Animals

With more than 90 animal-related bills filed for this legislative session, this hearing was critical to help move these important animal protection bills forward in the legislative process. But we can’t do it alone. Your elected officials work for you, so please take a look at ARL’s 2019-2020 legislative agenda, and contact your representatives to show your support for improving laws to protect animals in Massachusetts.