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Category: Advocacy
How a bill becomes a law, case study: PAWS I

Did you know… the Massachusetts Legislature is one of few in the country that meets full-time. They have two year-long sessions, with elections every two years.

In January of odd years, the Legislature convenes to consider bills and resolutions, conduct oversight, and make sure that state programs are funded through annual and supplemental budgets. Bills filed in January are considered through the rest of the two years, and must be re-introduced in future years (learn more about how a bill becomes a law here).

Most bills are filed before the bill filing deadline, which is usually towards the end of January at the beginning of the session. However, bills can be filed at any time. Often, bills filed after the bill filing deadline are prompted by events that show flaws in the legal system.

All bills, regardless of when they are filed, expire at the end of the session. While this technically is in early January, the legislature generally stops considering controversial matters after July 31 of the second year of the session.

Let’s look at PAWS I as an example of the steps required for a bill to become law in Massachusetts:

PAWS I Filing

PAWS I was filed after the shocking “Puppy Doe” cruelty case was investigated by ARL law enforcement in 2013. Around the country and even the world, people were horrified at the abuse this dog suffered. Often, cases like these highlight the weaknesses in our laws. Fortunately, the legislature sprang into action.

In October of 2013, ten months into the 188th session, Senator Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) filed an aggressive bill to strengthen our laws and help prevent such cruelty from happening again. While this may seem early, the many deadlines of the legislature mean this was a relatively late file.

This shortened clock put this incredibly important legislation at a disadvantage from the beginning. The bill was sent to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, which is responsible for conducting hearings for bills that would create or update crimes and penalties.

PAWS I Committee

The Joint Committee on the Judiciary Branch sees one of the largest volume of bills referred to it.

Committees must dispense with bills by a certain point in the session.[1]  However, in Massachusetts, each bill has the opportunity for public comment at hearing to address concerns with legislation, so it is not uncommon for bills to be worked on by the committee for a time after the hearing.

This is sometimes extended for bills filed later in the session, as they don’t have as much time to be considered. PAWS I was up against the clock as the committee hearing happened in mid-April, after the deadline to move bills out of committee.

In early July, PAWS I emerged favorably from the Judiciary Committee.  Unfortunately, not all bills favorably reported from committee become law, so there were several more steps to strengthen animal cruelty laws.

PAWS I Debate

July of even years marks the final month of the legislative session. While the legislature continues to work past July, they meet informally and will not take up controversial matters that require a roll call vote[2].  When the legislature meets informally, any one legislator can object to a bill, killing it.

On July 21, the PAWS I bill was amended by House Ways and Means and sent to House Steering, Policy and Scheduling, which sent the bill to the entire House for debate.  On July 30, with just 48 hours left in the formal session, the bill was put up for a Third Reading and debated by the House.

For a bill to become a law, identical language must be agreed to by both the House and the Senate, and it must be signed by the Governor. The Governor has 10 days to sign the bill, veto the bill, or do nothing.

If the bill is vetoed by the Governor, 2/3 of the legislature can override the veto, to make the bill law.  However, this can only happen by a roll call, so it must be sent to the Governor more than 10 days before the end of July.

On July 31, the Senate debated the PAWS I bill. There were some changes made from the House version. This meant that the bill would have to be reconciled in order to move forward. The end of the session was looming.

PAWS I – The Final Passage

Although the end of July marks defeat for most bills, when there is consensus in the legislature to move bills forward, they are able to continue.

On August 11, the Senate conceded to the House language, making the language identical in both branches.  With this progress, on August 14, the House and Senate took the final votes on the legislation, putting it on the Governor’s desk, where PAWS I was signed less than a week later on August 20.

Bills moving through the legislature have countless hurdles, but often their greatest opposition is time. Fortunately, because of a strong commitment in the legislature to strengthen the Commonwealth’s animal cruelty laws, animals did not have to wait for these crucial provisions to be signed into law.

However, partially due to this shortened time frame, there were things that the legislature wanted to further consider.  To accomplish this, they created the Animal Cruelty and Protection Task Force, of which ARL was a member.

This task force would issue a report that would become the basis for what would become PAWS II which became law in 2018.

PAWS I Timeline

10/7/2013           Senate   Filed

10/16/2013         Senate   Referred to the committee on Rules of the two branches, acting concurrently

10/31/2013         Senate   Rules suspended

10/31/2013         Senate   Referred to the committee on Judiciary

11/6/2013           House    House concurred

3/20/2014           House    Reporting date extended to Monday June 30, 2014, pending concurrence

4/3/2014             Senate   Senate concurred

4/17/2014           Joint      Hearing scheduled for 04/24/2014 from 01:30 PM-05:00 PM in A-2

7/7/2014             House    Accompanied a new draft, see H4244

7/7/2014             House    Reported from the committee on the Judiciary

7/7/2014             House    New draft of S767, S807, S1914 and H1182

7/7/2014             House    Bill reported favorably by committee and referred to the committee on House Ways and Means

7/21/2014           House    Committee recommended ought to pass with an amendment by substitution of a bill with the same title, see H4328

7/21/2014           House    Committee recommended ought to pass and referred to the committee on House Steering, Policy and Scheduling with the amendment pending

7/22/2014           House    Committee reported that the matter be placed in the Orders of the Day for the next sitting for a second reading with the amendment pending

7/22/2014           House    Rules suspended

7/22/2014           House    Read second, amended (as recommended by the committee on House Ways and Means)

7/22/2014           House    New draft substituted, see H4328

7/21/2014           House    Reported from the committee on House Ways and Means

7/21/2014           House    New draft of H4244

7/22/2014           House    Substituted for H4244

7/22/2014           House    Ordered to a third reading

7/30/2014           House    Read third

7/30/2014           House    Amendment 1 adopted

7/30/2014           House    Amendment 2 adopted

7/30/2014           House    Passed to be engrossed

7/31/2014           Senate   Read

7/31/2014           Senate   Rules suspended

7/31/2014           Senate   Read second

7/31/2014           Senate   New draft substituted, see S2345

7/31/2014           Senate   Recommended new draft (Tarr, et al) for H4328

7/31/2014           Senate   Substituted as a new draft for H4328

7/31/2014           Senate   Ordered to a third reading

7/31/2014           Senate   Read third

7/31/2014           Senate   Passed to be engrossed – Roll Call #469 [YEAS 40 – NAYS 0]

7/31/2014           House    Read; and referred to the House committee on Ways and Means

7/31/2014           House    Committee recommended ought to pass with an amendment, striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in place thereof the text of an amendment, H4388

7/31/2014           House    Referred to the House committee on Steering, Policy and Scheduling with the amendment pending

7/31/2014           House    Committee reported that the matter be placed in the Orders of the Day for the next sitting with the amendment pending

7/31/2014           House    Rules suspended

7/31/2014           House    Read second

7/31/2014           House    Amendment adopted, as recommended by the committee on House Ways and Means, see H4388

7/31/2014           House    Ordered to a third reading

7/31/2014           House    Rules suspended

7/31/2014           House    Read third and passed to be engrossed

8/11/2014           Senate   Rules suspended

8/11/2014           Senate   Senate concurred in the House amendment

8/14/2014           House    Enacted

8/14/2014           Senate   Enacted and laid before the Governor

8/20/2014           Senate   Signed by the Governor, Chapter 293 of the Acts of 2014

[1] This is known as “Joint Rule 10 Day”. Why? The rule that requires the bill be moved by that date is Joint Rule #10. It serves as a break in the session, where bills generally must get a thumbs up or a thumbs down.

[2] A “roll call vote” is a vote that consists of each legislator voting yes, no, or abstaining. Roll call votes are required for some bills.


Summer Safety: Protect Your Dog’s Paws!

For the past seven years the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) Too Hot for Spot® safety campaign has warned pet owners of the dangers of leaving an animal in a hot vehicle.

But with longer days and warm temperatures, outdoor pets face additional dangers – hot surfaces which can cause severe burns to your pet’s paws.

Asphalt, concrete, or brick surfaces i.e. parking lots, sidewalks, driveways, walkways, bike trails etc… absorb the heat from the sun and surface temperatures can exceed 145 degrees!

Other surfaces include wood, metal, artificial grass, running track material, and beach sand.

Burns to the paws are incredibly painful, and can really limit your dog’s mobility, especially if all four paws are affected.

We can’t keep our pets in a bubble, but there are measures you can take to ensure your pet is safe while outdoors this summer.

Air temp vs. asphalt temp

  1. The Hand Test. The surest way to determine if a surface is to place your hand on it for 7 seconds. It’s simple, if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pet!
  2. Plan Outdoor Time. Always a good idea during the warm weather months anyways, but you should try and limit your dog’s exercise time to early morning or early evening when it’s coolest. Keep in mind that these hot surfaces that absorb heat stay hot long after the sun sets.
  3. Stay on the Grass. Grass typically stays cooler than artificial surfaces.
  4. Protection Gear. Booties, Socks, Paw Wax Balm, these products can add a layer of protection for your dog’s paws. Dogs do sweat through their paws so it’s important to limit the amount of time they wear protective booties. Keep in mind it will take some time for your dog to get used to having any of these on his feet.

You also want to remember that your dog’s paws may be more susceptible to burns after getting wet and signs of burns to look for include:

  • Limping
  • Refusing to walk
  • Red or pink color change in paw pads
  • Licking or chewing at the feet
  • Blisters

Burns should be treated quickly, and if you discover that your pet has suffered burns on their paws, they should be taken to a veterinarian immediately.


Advocacy 101: Breaking Down the Basics

Advocacy in its simplest form, is to lend support towards a cause or proposal.

For the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL), advocacy is at the core of our mission.

Since its founding in 1899, ARL has advocated for animals and people, understanding the proven link between cruelty to animals and cruelty to people.

Some of the first advocacy efforts by ARL and founder Anna Harris Smith were related to improving conditions for carriage horses in the city after witnessing countless acts of mistreatment.

Advocacy in Practice

Advocacy looks different for every person who decides to get involved. We can advocate for ourselves, for others, and for causes we care about. Advocacy goals can be to change laws, to change regulations, to change practices, and to change minds.

One of the most common ways of advocating is contacting your elected officials. Wherever you live, you are represented by many layers and levels of government. This includes city or town level, county level, state level, and federal level. There are a lot of people who represent and work for you, who have different abilities to change laws and regulations.

On the surface, advocacy may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.

You can help advocate for animals in need!

ARL’s Advocacy Department goes through the thousands of bills filed each year and tracks them to make sure that animals have a voice on Beacon Hill and beyond. From time to time, we ask you to lend your voice to help animals. When contacting your elected officials, here are a few tips:

  1. You don’t have to be an expert! A lot of people are worried that they will be asked questions they don’t know the answers to, that their effort will be met with hostility, or that their voice won’t matter. Elected officials rely on their constituents[1] to tell them what issues matter to them, and they expect that sometimes there will be disagreement. The most important question you should be able to answer is why the bill matters to you.
  1. Familiarize yourself with the background before you call or email. Knowing background information will help you talk about why you’re passionate about a bill. Maybe you volunteer in our Animal Care & Adoption Centers and you’ve worked with animals who have been the subject of cruelty cases, maybe you adopted an animal who was abused, maybe you live in a community that saw a large cruelty case, or maybe this is just something you really care about. ARL frequently updates its legislative agenda and provides a synopsis and background information for each piece of proposed legislation.
  1. Use the method of contact that makes you feel most comfortable. Email is often the easiest format because it allows you to take your time writing and it doesn’t have the pressure of talking to someone on the phone. Every elected official is different, but personalized information is always best. If you write an email, make sure to include your name, address, and contact information. If you call, they will likely ask for this information. Most elected officials keep a database of people who contact their office so they can reach out in the future. Keep in mind that you may receive a response from staff; staff is heavily involved in this work and it does not mean the elected official is ignoring you!
  1. Things often move slowly. Don’t be disheartened because you called to support a bill and it didn’t pass. The Massachusetts Legislature considers bills on a two year session, and around 5,000 bills are filed to be considered during these two years. There are bills filed on education, transportation, healthcare, civil rights, animal welfare, and many other topics. Bills move through multiple stages to get passed, and the legislature is busier certain times of year than others. Sustained advocacy is the most successful advocacy, and it’s never too early or too late to speak out! Click here to see how a bill becomes law in Massachusetts.

Advocacy welcomes all ages and abilities, and along with contacting your elected officials, you can advocate by joining groups that speak out, engaging in education, and participating in public calls to action.

Championing a piece of legislation that ultimately becomes law is a tremendously rewarding experience, and the more who become involved, the better the chances of ushering in change to protect animals throughout the Commonwealth.

Learn more about the bills ARL is supporting this session.

[1] What’s a constituent? Probably you! “Constituent” is a brief way of saying “people who live in an elected official’s district”.


When the Temperatures Rise It’s Too Hot for Spot®

With the weather warming and the restrictions easing, many of us have one thing on our minds – getting outside!

But, as we gear up for another summer, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is once again launching its annual safety campaign, Too Hot for Spot®, to remind pet owners of the dangers of leaving animals in hot cars.

During warm weather months, we typically see animals being left in hot cars at beaches, near bike trails, and other parking lots associated with summer. However this year, we worry we will see more instances of animals being left in hot cars in places that many of us frequent while doing our daily errands.  Grocery stores, the post office, and banks – these are places where we will say, “I’ll be in and out.”

But, in the world we are now living in, the reality is that trips to these places are going to take longer.

The average grocery store trip, according to the Time Use Institute, is approximately 41 minutes. This figure is based on pre-pandemic information. Grocery stores and other businesses now need to take extra steps to disinfect or limit the number of people allowed inside at one time – resulting in daily errands taking longer. Leaving an animal in the car for even a short period of time, could be deadly.

Unlike humans, animals cannot efficiently cool their bodies. And while the windows in the car may be cracked, even with outside temperatures below 80 degrees, the inside of a vehicle can heat up to well over 100 degrees in a matter of minutes. The stifling heat inside a car makes animals susceptible to heat stroke, and the onset of symptoms is rapid.

Health hazards aside, it is also against the law in Massachusetts to keep an animal confined in a vehicle when extreme heat or cold may threaten the animal’s health.

ARL launched its Too Hot for Spot® annual campaign 7 years ago, and while pet owners should be well aware of the dangers of leaving animals in vehicles during the warm weather months, we sadly still see numerous examples of animals suffering and even dying every year, as the result of being left in the car.

Please, when it is hot outside, leave your dog at home. Set them up in a cool, humidity and temperature-controlled room, give them plenty of water, and make sure to limit their outdoor exercise to the morning or evening hours when it is coolest.

Summer is here and we’re all ready to get outside. Please continue to keep yourself, your family, and your pets safe and healthy during these uncertain times. We’re all in this together.

To learn more summer pet safety tips, visit arlboston.org/too-hot-for-spot.


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.