State Legislation

2019-2020 Massachusetts Legislative Session

The current session started on January 2, 2019. The deadline for bills to be filed was January 18, 2019. Usually, more than 5,000 bills are filed at the beginning of a session and another couple of thousand are late-filed. We will continue to update this page as we review the language of bills.

Legislators had until February 1 to co-sponsor House bills. Legislators have until bills are reported from Committee (many months) to sign on to Senate bills. Find out how to contact your legislators, and learn tips on how to engage with them, here.

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Bills We Support:

S. 114, H. 1774: An Act protecting the health and safety of puppies and kittens in cities and towns
These bills have several provisions to protect consumers and animals from unsafe practices by: prohibiting the sale of puppies and kittens under eight weeks of age; ensuring regulations for certain kennels, such as boarding and breeding kennels; updating several laws about kennel licensing; and prohibiting the roadside sale of animals.

S. 496, H. 772: An Act relative to ivory and rhinoceros horn trafficking
These bills clamp down on illegal ivory and rhino horn sales by restricting the sale, trade, and distribution of ivory and rhino horn in Massachusetts, ensuring that the Commonwealth doesn’t contribute to the unprecedented global poaching crisis. Elephants are being killed at an unsustainable rate; 35,000 African elephants were slaughtered in 2012 alone to satisfy the ivory market, an average of 96 per day. The United States ivory market is among the top globally, and a recent report ranked Boston/Cambridge as the seventh largest U.S. market.

S. 989, H. 1822: An Act enhancing the issuance of citations for cruel conditions for animals  
These bills expand upon current law, found in Ch. 140 sec. 174E, that allows citations to be issued when dogs are kept in cruel conditions. This legislation extends this protection to all domestic animals and also updates language to ensure that dogs left outside and unattended are protected. Broadening the current statute’s scope in this way allows an effective response to problematic situations involving animals and prevents them from escalating. Note that S. 990: An Act relative to improving enforcement for tethering violations contains the sections of this bill relating to dogs kept outside and unattended.

S. 2028, H. 2934: An Act relative to the use of elephants, big cats, primates, and bears in traveling exhibits and shows
These bills prohibit the use of elephants, big cats, primates, and bears in traveling shows in Massachusetts. These shows—using dangerous animals—are not only detrimental to animal welfare, but also present a public safety risk. These traveling shows subject highly intelligent, social animals to coercive and abusive treatment and a life on the road where they are deprived of exercise, and the ability to express their most basic, natural behaviors.

S. 595, H. 1037: An Act concerning the use of certain insurance underwriting guidelines pertaining to dogs harbored upon the insured property
These bills prevent insurance companies from denying or cancelling homeowners insurance based on the breed of dog owned, a practice that can separate dogs from their families. These decisions should be based on the behavior of the individual dog, not his or her appearance/suspected breed.

S. 175, H. 800: An Act banning the retail sale of cats and dogs in pet shops
These bills prohibit the sale of puppies, kittens, and rabbits in pet shops unless the animals come from shelters or rescue organizations. Typically, pet shops obtain animals from substandard breeding facilities, which results in consumers unknowingly purchasing sick or genetically-compromised pets. Massachusetts state records consistently document complaints from across the Commonwealth. State and federal records have also demonstrated that puppies from the worst “puppy mills” in the country have been sold to Massachusetts consumers via pet shops.

S. 507, H. 773: An Act further regulating the enforcement of illegal hunting practices
These bills modernize penalties for poaching—some of Massachusetts’ poaching penalties haven’t been updated in nearly a century—and enter Massachusetts into an interstate law enforcement network, ending our status as a poacher’s paradise. This legislation updates our penalties to bring them in line with those of other states and thus deters would-be poachers, while also protecting wildlife, tourism, and business in the Commonwealth.

S. 534, H. 758, H. 764: An Act protecting research animals
These bills facilitate a relationship between laboratories that use dogs and cats for research purposes and registered non-profit animal rescue organizations in order to make retired laboratory dogs and cats available for public adoption.

S. 1204, H. 1823: An Act relating to the remedy for the sale of sick puppies and kittens 
These bills provide fair and reasonable recourse in the event that an “unfit” puppy or kitten is sold to a consumer by improving the 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.

H. 757: An Act to study the health of the Blue Hills Forest and ecology to inform long-term reservation management
This bill implements a study and scientific survey conducted on the Blue Hills Reservation that would help to determine why the forest health is declining, and inform how best to ensure that holistic improvements occur.

S. 505, H. 823: An Act concerning the use of animals in product testing
These bills require the use of available test methods that avoid or reduce animal testing of products and ingredients. Alternatives provide information of equivalent or superior quality and relevance to humans in comparison to animal tests. The bill applies to products such as cosmetics, household cleaners, and industrial chemicals, like those in paint; it does not apply to testing done for medical research, including testing of drugs or medical devices.

S. 510, H. 812, H. 3603: An Act protecting dogs at boarding kennels and daycare facilities
S. 503: An Act requiring the supervision of animals at day care
While the language varies, these bills would provide some regulations of “doggie daycares” and several will also require regulations to be promulgated 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). Note that An Act protecting the health and safety of puppies and kittens in cities and towns (see above) also has sections that address boarding and daycare facilities for dogs and cats.

S. 501: An Act to provide additional funding for animal welfare and safety programming.
This bill would enable additional monies to be directed to the Mass Animal Fund for the purpose of spaying, neutering or vaccinated homeless dogs and cats or those that live with lower-income families. 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.

H. 1038: An Act to prohibit housing discrimination against responsible dog owners
This bill 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.

S. 169: An Act prohibiting inhumane feline declawing
This bill prohibits the declawing, onychectomy, or tendonectomy of a cat. The standard, elective, declawing procedure calls for the removal of the claw and the first bone of the toe. The operation is usually performed on the front feet, and is actually an amputation comparable to the removal of human fingertips at the first knuckle.

S. 1037: An Act relative to the ownership of pets by convicted animal abusers
This bill prohibits a person who is convicted of animal cruelty from owning, possessing, keeping, or having custody or control over any animal for a period of time determined by the court.

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
While not identical, both of these bills would allow a law enforcement dog injured in the line of duty to be transported in an ambulance if there is not competing need for human transport.




Bills We Oppose:

S. 472, S. 487, H. 782, H. 884, H. 887: Sunday 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. Sunday 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.

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.

S. 476, S. 479, H. 781, H. 839, H. 885: Trapping legislation
A number of bills are filed each session that remove or weaken current restrictions on cruel body-gripping Conibear and leghold (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.

S. 475, H. 890: Spotlighting (hunting with artificial light)
These bills expand an already-archaic Massachusetts state law that permits spotlighting, a nighttime hunting practice that involves shining a bright light at a target animal to paralyze it. Most states ban spotlighting, but these bills expand the practice. Many states and hunting groups consider spotlighting unsporting because of the ease with which it allows hunters to kill an animal. It is also dangerous because hunters usually spotlight on a dark road and cannot easily see other passing cars or people who may be in the surrounding area and in harm’s way.

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.

H. 1773: An Act to protect pets in the Commonwealth
This bill is a watered-down version of a bill (An Act to protect puppies and kittens) that passed the Senate last session. It removes important protections in that bill at the behest of the pet trade industry, including: removing provisions for a remedy if a person purchases a sick puppy or kitten, removing language that would allow cities and towns to still enact local ordinances relating to the retail sale of animals, explicitly allowing unlicensed breeders to sell to pet shops, and removing important consumer protection information required on an animal’s cage, among other changes. We urge people to support the stronger bills (see above for more info): An Act protecting the health and safety of puppies and kittens in cities and towns; An Act banning the retail sale of cats and dogs in pet shops; An Act relating to the remedy for the sale of sick puppies and kittens.

Want to see what we supported and opposed during the 2017-2018 session? Click here!

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