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.
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.