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2019-2020 Legislative Agenda

In January 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 learn how a bill becomes a law in Massachusetts.


Below is a list of bills ARL supports and opposes:

ACTIVE SUPPORT: These bills are closely related to our current work and will be the focus of our advocacy efforts. This will include meeting with legislators, sharing information through emails and social media, and participating in hearings.

S. 989, H. 1822: An Act enhancing the issuance of citations for cruel conditions for animals

Allows animal control officers, police officers and special state police officers with ARL and MSPCA to issue citations for animals in “cruel conditions” which includes: exposure to excessive waste, garbage, non-potable water, and excessive exposure to noxious odors that pose a health threat to animals or people, among others. Currently, the only tool that law enforcement has to address animal cruelty is an felony cruelty charge. This measure would provide for an additional tool to address cruelty matter. This measure would act as a deterrent, rather than a form of punishment.

Sponsors: Senator Mark Montigny; Representative Angelo Puppolo, Jr.

Current Status: Referred to Joint Committee on the Judiciary


S. 114, H. 1774: An Act protecting the health and safety of puppies and kittens in cities and towns

Requires the creation of regulations for the operation of boarding kennels and daycare facilities (such as staff qualifications and development, provider/dog ratios and interaction, group sizes and supervision, minimum housing, physical facility and care requirements, utilities, dog handling, body language interpretation, breed familiarity, emergency response training, and insurance). Also included is a prohibition of the sale of puppies and kittens under eight weeks of age and the roadside sale of animals and updates laws related to kennel licensing.

Sponsors: Senator Harriett Chandler; Representative Linda Dean Campbell

Current Status: Referred to Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure


S. 175, H. 800: An Act banning the retail sale of cats and dogs in pet shop

Prohibits the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits from pet shops unless the animals come from shelters or rescue organizations. Pet stores are a preferred sales outlet for inhumane commercial breeding facilities known as “puppy mills” because they allow the cruelty at the mills to remain hidden from consumers. This legislation does not prevent consumers from acquiring a dog, cat, or rabbit from a responsible breeder or a shelter or rescue organization. Further, it does not prohibit a pet shop from partnering with shelters or rescues to provide animals in their store.

Sponsors: Senator Patrick O’Connor; Representative Natalie Higgins

Current Status: Referred to Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure


S. 1204, H. 1823: An Act relating to the remedy for the sale of sick puppies and kittens

Provides fair and reasonable recourse in the event an “unfit” puppy or kitten is sold to a consumer and provides consumer protection through an improved puppy and kitten “Lemon Law.” Families who discover they have purchased a sick puppy from a pet shop or breeder regularly spend money on veterinary bills and often choose to retain the puppy rather than return to the seller—because they are attached to the animal and/or are concerned about what will happen if he or she is returned. These bills enhance consumer protection by requiring a better remedy, including the option for reimbursement of some medical expenses.

Sponsors: Senator James Welch; Representative Dave Rogers

Current Status: Referred to Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government


GENERAL SUPPORT: These bills align with our animal welfare policy and position statments and we will provide general support including lending our name to advocacy efforts and providing testimony.

Click here to view ARL’s animal welfare policy and position statments.

S. 595, H. 1037:An Act Concerning the Use of Certain Insurance Underwriting Guidelines Pertaining to Dogs Harbored Upon the Insured Property

Prevents insurance companies from denying, canceling, failing to renew, or charging an increased premium for homeowners or renters insurance based on the breed or perceived breed of their dog. Policies that target specific breeds discriminate against responsible dog owners who properly train and socialize their dogs. As a result, owners unable to obtain insurance may surrender their dogs to shelters and other potential adopters may be unwilling to adopt certain breeds.

Sponsors: Senator Anne Gobi; Representative Jack Patrick Lewis

Current Status: Referred to Joint Committee on Financial Services


H. 1038: An Act to prohibit housing discrimination against responsible dog owners
Ensures that certain types of housing agreements (such as condo bylaws, some leases), as well as public housing authorities, cannot discriminate against, or include language that limits, a tenant or resident’s ability to live in that type of housing based on the size, weight, or perceived breed of a dog owned by a tenant/resident.

Sponsor: Representative Lewis

Current Status: Referred to Joint Committee on Financial Services


S 501: An Act to provide additional funding for animal welfare and safety programming 

Enables additional monies to be directed to the Mass Animal Fund. Its purposes are to “… offset costs associated with the vaccination, spaying and neutering of homeless dogs and cats, to offset costs associated with the vaccination, spaying and neutering of dogs and cats owned by low-income residents and to assist with the training of animal control officers consistent with section 151C of chapter 140.” Currently, income in the Fund comes from a donation option on Line 33f on the state income tax return. Administrative fines issued pursuant to Section 37 of Chapter 129 (“Enforcement actions; jurisdiction of commissioner of agriculture, district and superior courts”) would now go to the Fund.

Sponsor: Senator Montigny

Current Status: Referred to Joint committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture


S. 2028, H. 2934: An Act Relative to the Use of Elephants, Big Cats, Primates, and Bears in Traveling Exhibits

Ensures that Massachusetts no longer plays a role in subjecting certain wild animals to the cruelty of use in circuses and traveling shows.

Sponsors: Senators Bruce Tarr and Welch; Representatives Lori Ehrlichand Bradley Jones

Current Status: Referred to Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development


S. 507, H. 773: An Act Further Regulating the Enforcement of Illegal Hunting Practices

Enters Massachusetts into a nationwide law enforcement network that has been benefiting the wildlife agencies of member states for 25 years. Only two states, Massachusetts and Hawaii, are not part of such a network.

Sponsors: Senator Mike Moore; Representatives Ann-Margaret Ferranteand Ehrlich

Current Status: Referred to Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development


H. 757: An Act to study the health of the Blue Hills Forest and ecology to inform long-term reservation management

Implements a study and scientific survey conducted on the Blue Hills Reservation to determine why the forest health is in decline.

Sponsor: Representative William Driscoll

Current Status: Referred to Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture


H. 2669: An Act designating the month of October as Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

Brings awareness to the importance of adoption of dogs by designating the month of October as “Shelter Dog Month.”

Sponsor: Representative Driscoll

Current Status: Referred to Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight


S. 169: An Act prohibiting inhumane feline declawing

Prohibits a person from performing a declawing of a cat unless the procedure is for therapeutic purposes, a medical necessity.

Sponsor: Senator Montigny

Current Status: Referred to Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure


S. 1431: An Act allowing humane transportation of K9 partners a.k.a. Nero’s Law
H. 2037: An Act providing for the care and transportation of police dogs injured in the line of duty

Supports transportation of police dogs injured in the line of duty.

Sponsor: Senator Montigny; Representative William Crocker

Current Status: Referred to Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security


OPPOSE: We believe these bills are in opposition to the welfare of animal in Massachusetts and several seek to roll back protections we have previously fought for. We will work to actively oppose these bills.

H. 884, H. 887, S. 451, S. 467, S. 472, S. 475, S. 479, S. 487: Hunting legislation

A number of bills are filed each session that would eliminate in whole or part the statewide ban on Sunday hunting. 86% of Massachusetts residents want to maintain the ban on Sunday hunting while hunters represent just 1% of the Massachusetts population. Some hunting bills prioritize a small minority over an overwhelming majority of Massachusetts residents who do not hunt, and who enjoy non-consumptive uses of nature and wildlife.

Sponsors: Representatives Alyson Sullivan and William Straus; Senator Gobi

Current Status: Referred to Joint committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture


S. 468: An Act relative to outdoor heritage

This bill would remove a number of restrictions and bans involving hunting practices such as Sunday hunting, bear baiting, and spotlighting. It would also remove some prohibitions on carrying firearms, making enforcing poaching laws more difficult.

Sponsors: Senator Gobi

Current Status: Referred to Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture


H. 839, H. 781, S. 476: Trapping legislation

A number of bills are filed each session that remove or weaken current restrictions on cruel body-gripping Conibear and leg hold (sometimes called foot-hold) traps which are used to capture fur-bearing animals, such as beaver and coyote. These changes would effectively allow a return to the days of recreational trapping with these inhumane and indiscriminate devices, something that 64% of Massachusetts voters decried in 1996 when they voted in favor of a ballot initiative known as the Wildlife Protection Act.

Sponsors: Representatives David Nangleand Paul Frost; Senator Gobi

Current Status: Referred to Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture


S. 474: An Act relative to the moose population in the Commonwealth

This bill would allow the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife to allow moose hunting in Worcester, Berkshire, Hampshire, Hampden, and Franklin counties.

Sponsor: Senator Gobi

Current Status: Referred to Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture


H. 1773: An Act to protect pets

Despite the title, this bill would be harmful to animals. It was crafted by the pet shop industry. It imposes more regulations upon “animal rescue organizations,” such as shelter record keeping and reporting. It requires animal rescue organizations to retain records for 10 years relative to the “sale” of any animal and mandates microchipping for all animals without exceptions. This version is the pet shop industry’s weakening of true animal protection bills, and does very little to protect pets.

Sponsor: Representative Mark Cusack

Current Status: Referred to Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government


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