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Category: Advocacy
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.


Press Release: ARL Unveils “The Kennel-9” Campaign

Nine things to consider before boarding a pet

With vacation season right around the corner, today the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is launching “The Kennel-9” – a public awareness and safety campaign to help ensure pets are properly cared for while at a boarding facility.

Currently, there are no state-wide regulations that govern boarding kennels and animal daycare facilities in Massachusetts.

As part of its 2019-2020 legislative agenda, ARL is advocating for standards that would mandate the creation of new state laws to protect pets. The bill, S. 114, H. 1774: An Act protecting the health and safety of puppies and kittens in cities and towns, is sponsored by Senator Harriett Chandler and Representative Linda Dean Campbell.

ARL has unfortunately seen a number of incidents involving animals in boarding kennels who were injured, sometimes fatally, due to insufficient facilities, staff training, or protocols.

“There are many fine boarding facilities throughout Massachusetts, but unfortunately due to a lack of state-wide standards and regulations, the Animal Rescue League of Boston recommends pet owners do their homework and ask the right questions to ensure their animal is safe,” said ARL President Mary Nee.

Before boarding your beloved pet, research as much as possible and keep these nine considerations in mind:

  1. See for Yourself. Can you see the kennels and common areas where your animal will be boarded? During your pet’s stay can you check on them remotely via webcam?
  2. Sound the Alarm. Does the facility have a written emergency response procedure in the event of fire, power outage, or natural disaster? Does the kennel have working fire and carbon monoxide detectors, sprinkler systems and a back-up power generator?
  3. License, Please. Does the kennel have a current operating license issued by a local city or town? According to the license, how many animals can be boarded at one time? How many animals are currently housed?
  4. In Case of a Medical Emergency. Are you contacted if your animals experiences an unexpected medical condition or injury? Is there a veterinarian on staff, or does the facility have a veterinarian on call? Do you sign a waiver giving permission to have your animal treated?
  5. TLC. What is the ratio of staff to animals? Is there 24-hour on-site supervision? If not, are animals monitored by video camera? What training or experience does the staff caring for animals have?
  6. Social Circle. Do dogs play together in common areas? Are these play groups supervised at all times? Are dogs grouped together by size and/or temperament? Can you choose to have your dog not participate in group activities?
  7. Infection Precautions. Does the facility require up-to-date vaccination records for all boarders? What documentation is required for your pet to be admitted?
  8. Feline Friends. Does the facility allow cats and are they separated from the sight and noise of dogs?
  9. Get it in Writing. Will the facility give you written documentation of their procedures or confirmation of any special requests for your pet?

Click here to download ARL’s “The Kennel-9” flyer.


How a Bill Becomes Law in Massachusetts

On January 2, 2019, the Massachusetts General Court began its 2019-2020 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.

Click here to see ARL’s 2019-2020 legislative agenda.

The Massachusetts Legislature runs in a two-year cycle by calendar year, with each new cycle beginning in the January after the biennial state election.

Legislation may be filed by members of the House and Senate, and by the Governor. The state constitution also allows citizens to ask their legislators to present bills “by request”.

Each new session, hundreds to thousands bills are filed, but only a select few actually become law.

While the process is quite complex, here are 8 main steps a bill needs to go through before it becomes law:

  1. Bill Drafting. This document details every aspect of the proposed statute.
  2. Securing a Sponsor. The legislative sponsor will be the champion and voice for the statute.
  3. Bill Filing. Upon filing, each bill is assigned a number and referred to a committee.
  4. Joint Committee Hearing. This public forum allows members of the public, government officials, and office holders to speak either in favor of or against a proposed statute.
  5. Joint Committee Executive Session and Report. Following the hearing, the committee will decide if the statute will continue in the process.
  6. Bill Readings.
    a. First Reading. If reported favorably by committee, the bill appears in the Journal of the House or Senate, and given its first reading. The bill is then typically referred to another committee for further review.
    b. Second Reading. At this stage, the bill is debated and subject to motions and amendments.
    c. Third Reading. The bill continues to be subject to debate, motions, and amendments in the House or Senate. Once debated, a vote is taken to pass the bill to be engrossed. If passed, the bill moves on to the other legislative branch.
  7. Consideration. If the bill advances through three readings and is engrossed in the second legislative branch, it will be sent to the Legislative Engrossing Division to be typed on special parchment – as required by law.
  8. Bill Enacted. A vote to enact by both legislative branches passes the bill, and the newly created law will then be sent to the governor for consideration. The governor can: sign the bill into law; veto the bill; or send the bill back to the Legislature with recommended amendments. In general, laws become effective 30-90 days after the Governor’s signature.

Take Action!

Lobbying is the key to a bill’s momentum as it goes through the legislative process. It’s more than just standing up and saying “I support this”.

A successful lobbying strategy includes the following:

  • Compiling an informational packet containing a one-page fact sheet on the bill, and any relevant news articles that support the bill
  • Meeting with elected officials is critical – don’t just drop by, arrange a sit-down meeting to discuss the legislation and ALWAYS follow-up with a thank you note!
  • Reach out to local media through press releases in order to publically discuss the bill and to introduce it to a wider audience to garner further support

PAWS II Signed into Law

PAWS II further bolsters Massachusetts animal protection law

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is pleased to announce that Governor Charlie Baker has officially signed PAWS II into law. An Act to Protect Animal Welfare and Safety in Cities and Towns passed unanimously in both the Senate and House, and was part of a whirlwind of activity for Governor Baker this past Thursday, who signed 53 bills into law.

PAWS II is an enormous step forward for animal protection law in Massachusetts and includes the following provisions:

  • Establishes a commission to explore mandatory reporting of animal cruelty (ARL will have a designated representative)
  • Ensures property owners check vacant properties for abandoned animals
  • Prohibits the automatic euthanasia of animal fighting victims
  • Ensures more efficient enforcement of animal control laws
  • Prohibits sexual contact with an animal
  • Prohibits the drowning of animals
  • Requires insurance companies offering homeowners or renters insurance to record and report circumstances surrounding dog-related incident claims to the MA Division of Insurance, the clerks in the Senate and House, and the ways and means committees for three years (last report to be filed by Jan 1, 2022)

“This legislation is a huge leap forward for animal protection in Massachusetts and was several years in the making,” said ARL President Mary Nee. “The Animal Rescue League of Boston is thrilled with its passage and appreciate the hard work and dedication of our elected officials to make the welfare of animals throughout the Commonwealth a priority.”

PAWS II builds upon the original PAWS Act that was passed in 2014 and was born out of the horrific discovery of the dog forever known as Puppy Doe in 2013. Along with increasing animal cruelty penalties and requiring veterinarians to report suspected abuse, the PAWS Act created the Animal Cruelty and Protection Task Force. ARL President Mary Nee was part of the 11-member group who was charged with investigating the effectiveness of existing laws, and determining where gaps still exist.

The PAWS II Act is a direct reflection of the Task Force’s hard work and recommendations.

ARL worked in collaboration with the Humane Society of the United States, MSPCA, and Best Friends Animal Society to educate the public and advocate for the passage of this bill and would sincerely like to thank the following legislators for their leadership and commitment to animal protection:

PAWS II Sponsors: Senator Mark Montigny; Senator Bruce Tarr; Representative Louis Kafka
Conference Committee: Representative Jim O’Day; Representative David Muradian, Representative Sarah Peake; Senator Tarr; Senator Montigny; Senator Adam Hinds

MA House: Representative Robert DeLeo (House Speaker); Representative Jeffery Sanchez (House Ways and Means Chair)

MA Senate: Senator Karen Spilka (Senate President); Senator Harriette Chandler (Former Senate President)


Governor Baker and MSP Join ARL for Too Hot for Spot Demonstration

ARL’s fifth annual public awareness campaign

This past Friday, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) was joined by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, legislators, and the Massachusetts State Police Major Richard Ball to once again remind pet owners of the dangers of heat stroke for pets, particularly in hot cars.

It is the fifth year ARL has imparted the “Too Hot for Spot” summer pet safety message throughout the Commonwealth. ARL is spreading this message through social media, flyers, car magnets, media partnerships, and digital billboards throughout the state thanks to billboard space generously donated by MassDOT and IBEW Local 103.

The event took place in front of the Massachusetts State House, and included a demonstration with ARL’s stuffed dog “Spot” to show how quickly the inside of a car can heat up – even with seemingly mild temperatures and the windows cracked.

It was a perfect summer day with temperatures hovering around 80 degrees. In just 10 minutes the temperature inside ARL’s Rescue Services vehicle rose to well over 120 degrees. It’s important to remember that animals do not sweat like humans do, and cannot efficiently regulate their body temperature in an environment such as a hot car.

Massachusetts General Law Ch. 140, Section 174f was signed by Governor Baker in 2016, and prohibits confining an animal “in a motor vehicle in a manner that could reasonably be expected to threaten the health of the animal due to exposure to extreme or cold”. The law also allows first responders and ordinary citizens to enter a vehicle to remove an animal if it’s deemed that its life is in imminent danger.

“While our hope is that no one ever has to rescue an animal from a hot car, we understand those situations unfortunately do arise and lives can depend on a quick response,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Educating the public on the dangers of leaving pets in hot cars and the measures they can take to rescue an animal in need is a key prevention tool, and I thank the ARL for once again launching this important campaign.”

“Our pets provide limitless love and companionship, and we must do everything to protect them from neglectful owners who time and time again have shown a cruel disregard for their welfare,” said State Senator Mark Montigny, lead sponsor of the 2016 law penalizing the leaving of pets in hot cars.

Despite having a law on the books in Massachusetts, unfortunately Animal Control Officers and law enforcement are still seeing a high number of incidents where animals are left in hot vehicle and enduring needless suffering.

“The Massachusetts State Police and all law enforcement agencies consider animal cruelty and neglect to be serious crimes and assist animal rights organizations in investigating such crimes aggressively,” said Major Richard Ball, commander of MSP Troop H. “We urge the public to be familiar with the law that allows them to take action to rescue an animal confined in a hot car, and to tell law enforcement about any type of animal abuse they see or suspect. If you see something, say something.”

“The ‘dog days’ of summer are the perfect time to keep the safety of our pets in mind,” said State Representative Lori Ehrlich. “I hope this law never has to be used, but everyone should know the dangers of a hot car and what to do if you see an animal in danger. Prevention is best so I’m grateful to the Animal Rescue League of Boston for raising awareness.”

Prevention is Key

ARL’s “Too Hot for Spot” campaign is focused on reminding the public that prevention is always the best solution. When temperatures rise, ARL urges pet owners to leave their animals at home.


Massachusetts House Passes PAWS II

Historical animal protection legislation closer to becoming state law

This week, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed H.4565 – An Act to Protect Animal Welfare and Safety in Cities and Towns (PAWS II). The measure passed unanimously 145-0.

“The Animal Rescue League of Boston is thrilled with the outcome of this vote and offers heart-felt congratulations to the House of Representatives, particularly Representative Lou Kafka for sponsoring this bill, House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Jeffrey Sanchez, and Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo for their continued efforts to further protect animals throughout the Commonwealth,” said ARL President Mary Nee.

The House and Senate will work together to prepare the bill for Governor Baker’s desk.

PAWS II is a far-reaching piece of animal protection legislation and includes the following provisions:

  • Ensure that property owners check vacant properties for abandoned animals
  • Prevent the automatic euthanasia of animal fighting victims
  • Prohibit the drowning of animals
  • Ensure efficient enforcement of animal control laws
  • Prohibit sexual contact with an animal

PAWS II extends from the original PAWS Act which was passed in 2014 on the heels of the horrific 2013 discovery of a tortured dog in Quincy who would forever be known as Puppy Doe.

Along with increasing cruelty penalties and strengthening Massachusetts law, the original PAWS Act also created the Animal Cruelty and Protection Task Force. The Task Force examined areas of Massachusetts animal law that needed to be updated. PAWS II is the culmination of the task force’s work and recommendations.


Lobbying for PAWS II Passage

ARL Co-Hosts Event at Massachusetts State House

On Wednesday, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) joined legislators, animal advocates and other animal organizations for a special event at the Massachusetts State House, to directly lobby law makers for the passage of S. 2347: An Act to Protect Animal Welfare and Safety in Cities and Towns (PAWS II).

PAWS II recently passed in the Massachusetts Senate and will soon be addressed in the House.

Nearly 100 constituents and animal advocates were on hand to learn specific aspects of the omnibus bill, lobbying strategies, and finally to meet face to face with legislators.

PAWS II

On the heels of the horrific discovery of Puppy Doe and ensuing investigation in 2013, the original PAWS Act was passed in 2014, which strengthened animal cruelty penalties in Massachusetts, and also created the Animal Cruelty and Protection Task Force, of which ARL was a member.

PAWS II derives from recommendations made by the task force and would protect animals in the Commonwealth in a multitude of ways.

If passed, the bill would:

  • Require the cross-reporting of animal abuse;
  • Prohibit the drowning of animals;
  • Prohibit the automatic killing of animal fighting victims;
  • Prohibit discrimination against dog breeds;
  • Require property owners to look for animals when property is vacated and notify the police or an animal control officer if an animal is found; and
  • Prohibit sexual contact with an animal or forcing a child to engage in sexual contact with an animal.

ARL thanks Senators Mark Montigny, Bruce Tarr, and Karen Spilka for their continued efforts to fight animal cruelty and abuse in the Commonwealth. ARL would also like to thank our colleagues at the MSPCA, HSUS for collaborative advocacy efforts.

PAWS II is just one of several bills that is a part of ARL’s Legislative Agenda. With your help, we can further protect animals throughout the Commonwealth!

WE ARE CHAMPIONS FOR ANIMALS.


PAWS II Lobby Day: Protect Animal Welfare and Safety

On Wednesday, May 9, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) will join the Animal Cruelty Task Force, Massachusetts legislators, and other organizations for a special lobbying event to advance S.2347: An Act to protect animal welfare and safety in cities and towns (PAWS II).

PAWS II Lobby Day will take place on Wednesday, May 9, 2018, in Room 428 at the Massachusetts State House.

Legislative Action

The discovery of Puppy Doe in 2013, and the subsequent investigation that followed inspired legislative action to protect animals. As a result, in 2014, the original PAWS Act was passed and strengthened penalties against animal abuse. It also created the Animal Cruelty and Protection Task Force.

Puppy Doe.

Massachusetts can continue to strengthen animal protection laws by passing PAWS II (S.2347: An Act to protect animal welfare and safety in cities and towns). The bill has passed the Senate and is currently in the House.

PAWS II includes several provisions, some of which are included below. PAWS II would:

– Require the cross-reporting of animal abuse;
– Prohibit the drowning of animals;
– Prohibit the automatic killing of animal fighting victims;
– Prohibit discrimination against dog breeds;
– Require property owners to look for animals when property is vacated and notify the police or an animal control officer if an animal is found; and
– Prohibit sexual contact with an animal or forcing a child to engage in sexual contact with an animal.

PAWS II is just one of several bills that is a part of ARL’s Legislative Agenda. With your help, we can further protect animals throughout the Commonwealth!

WE ARE CHAMPIONS FOR ANIMALS.


Animal Protection Legislation Moving Forward

On Thursday, the Massachusetts Senate passed S. 2332 An Act to protect animal welfare in cities and towns (PAWS II). It’s a big step forward for the legislation that would protect animals in Massachusetts in a multitude of ways.

Key provisions of the bill include:

  • Mandated reporting of cruelty, abuse, or neglect between human and animal welfare agencies
  • Updated penalties for acts of animal cruelty
  • Ensure landlords/owners check vacant properties for abandoned animals
  • Prohibit a number of cruel acts, including the drowning of animals

Also on Thursday, S. 2331 – An Act relative to protecting puppies and kittens was also passed in the Senate.

Both bills will now go to the House for debate.

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) would like to thank Senators Mark Montigny, Bruce Tarr, and Karen Spilka for their continued efforts to fight animal cruelty and abuse in the Commonwealth. ARL would also like to thank our colleagues at the MSPCA, HSUS, Mass. Coalition to End Puppy Mills, and Western Massachusetts Animal Advocates.

Be sure to check out 2018 Legislative Agenda page, and we’ll keep you updated as these bills make their way through the House.


An Open Letter Opposing Cape Cod Coyote Killing Contest

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL), with an Animal Care & Adoption Center in Brewster, MA, is deeply troubled by the spectacle of killing coyotes for contest on Cape Cod. We are horrified to see people compete for cash prizes to see who can kill the heaviest of these animals. Contests like this are harmful for numerous reasons, including child health, public health, and wildlife management.

First, public hunting contests negatively affect children who witness these displays. Children who witness animal violence may become desensitized to animal abuse, which is often a precursor to other forms of abuse toward the elderly, the disabled, and family. Organizations such as the National Link Coalition research, document, and evaluate the link between violence toward animals as a predictor of future violence affecting both animals and humans. With a rise of violence in our nation’s schools, now, more than ever, we should protect children from witnessing or seeing harmful images or bodies of animal slaughter, especially for money.

Second, coyote hunting contests presented as management strategies for species overpopulation are unsupported by population counts or research. In fact, articles such as Megan Draheim’s, “Why Killing Coyotes Doesn’t Make Livestock Safer” published in the Scientific American, argue that the wide-spread killing of coyotes could actually result in a larger and unmanageable wildlife population because when coyotes are killed, they breed more rapidly and disrupt remaining wildlife.

Third, coyote hunting overlooks the role that coyotes have in the Massachusetts ecosystem. Coyotes control species and disease populations because their diet consists of rodents, rabbits, deer, birds, insects, and reptiles. They keep diseased animals from reproducing. By controlling rodent populations, coyotes protect crops and agriculture in Massachusetts.

The Animal Rescue League of Boston notes that the etymological meaning of the word “contest” is “together to witness.” As we, united with advocates on behalf of animals and children, bear witness to the contest that unfolds on Cape Cod, hope that Massachusetts legislators and citizens look to states like California and Vermont, who have undertaken legislative measures to prohibit coyote hunting tournaments.

A radical kill of animals for a cash prize is not consistent with sentiments of Massachusetts citizens and is inhumane for animals. It is harmful to children exposed to the unethical slaughter of animals for a cash prize.

Mary Nee

President, Animal Rescue League of Boston