Current Legislation

2013-2014 Massachusetts Legislative Session

As we learn more about new bills, we'll post them below under the support and oppose headers, so keep an eye on this page.

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The federal government has convened the 113th Congress; you can read about pending federal legislation on our website.

 Bills we support:

Bills Enhancing Penalties for Animal Cruelty
Please see this page for information about recently filed animal cruelty bills.

H. 1852: An Act to Ensure Adequate Care of Animals In Cities and Towns
This bill would clarify the existing animal cruelty laws and give specific express notice to animal owners and possessors that they have an obligation to provide their animals with veterinary care that is necessary to prevent or relieve their animals’ suffering.  Over 20 states have some provision in their statutes creating such a duty. the already existing parameters of the Massachusetts’ animal cruelty laws.


 S. 942: An Act Protecting Abandoned Animals in Vacant Properties
This bill would require owners of rented properties to check them for abandoned animals within 5 days after tenants move out; if abandoned animals are found, owners must report to the animal control officer or other authorities. 

  • Sponsor: Senator James Eldridge
  • Status:
    • In Senate Committee on Ethics and Rules
    • Reported favorably by the Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government on July 23, 2013 with amendment
  • Read more
  • Read a recent article about this bill

 H. 1825: An Act Regulating the Sale of Dogs   
This bill would prevent any person, commercial establishment, pet shop, firm or corporation from selling a dog or cat less than 8 weeks of age in the Commonwealth.

 H. 3762: An Act to Protect Puppies and Kittens  
This bill would prevent the sale of dog or cat less than 8 weeks of age, provide a remedy for the sale of sick dogs and cats and regulate breeders (who keep 6 or more intact female dogs).

 H. 1456: An Act to Prevent Farm Animal Cruelty
Most farm animals are raised in intense confinement systems that thwart most, if not all, of their natural behaviors. This bill would prohibit the confinement of farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs; that means that standard veal crates, gestation crates for pregnant pigs, and battery cages for hens would not be allowed in the Commonwealth.


S. 1172 An Act Ensuring the Safety of People with Pets in Disasters
This bill would ensure that pets are incorporated into municipal and the state disaster plans.

  • Sponsor: Senator Karen Spilka
  • Status: Signed into law by Governor Patrick on March 24, 2013
  • Read more

H. 3294
An Act Relative to the Rescue of Foals
This bill would allow rescue groups to shelter foals.

 S.1948 An Act Enhancing the Enforcement of Illegal Hunting Practices
(formerly S.381 & H.658)/H.1198
These bills would deter poaching, which is the illegal harming or killing of wildlife, by increasing penalties to bring them in line with other states around the county. They would also create an elevated penalty for chronic poachers who repeatedly violate the law

  • Sponsor: Senator Michael Moore/Representative Matthew Beaton
  • Status:
    • In the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.
    • Referred favorably from Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee reported S.381 favorably with H.658 attached (now S.1948);

H.3438 An Act to Reduce Plastic Pollution
(formerly S. 359/H. 696/H. 787)
H.3438 prohibits large retail stores from providing plastic carry-out bags unless those bags meet ASTM standards for compostability/biodegradability. 


 H. 712: An Act Enhancing the Management of Problem Wildlife
The last couple sessions saw a lot of activity around the issue of beaver trapping. There is one point that everyone agreed on: more data is needed on
trapped animals. This bill would require a person who was granted a permit by a local, state, or federal health official, or by the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (under M.G.L Ch. 131 § 80A) to report to the Director of Fisheries and Wildlife within thirty days of the permit’s expiration. The intention of the bill is to track the numbers of beavers and other animals that are caught by trappers to better determine the statewide populations of those animals. There is also a desire to monitor the number of complaints about such species, the locations of such complaints, and the methods chosen to remedy them. The MSPCA believes that this is important and supports the effort to gather this data.

H. 1243: An Act Updating the Law Relating to Posting a Security for Seized Animals in Cruelty Cases
This bill would make a few, mostly technical, changes to the statute that passed in 2002 regarding the seizure of animals in connection with cruelty investigations. The law now allows an authority that seizes an animal pursuant to applicable Massachusetts law for alleged cruelty or neglect to request the court to order a refundable security/bond to cover the costs of caring for the animal during the period of time the animal is held until the case is adjudicated. Law enforcement officials must hold seized animals as evidence and thus the animals cannot be adopted or returned to an owner until the case has been adjudicated. However, animals are different than other seized property; animals must receive food, water, board, and often-extensive medical care from the authority that took possession of them as part of the arrest or seizure. Since the law passed in 2002, there have been mixed results with the effectiveness of the law. The changes in this bill are designed to address those issues that have arisen in practice and have limited the effectiveness of this law. Additionally, since animal cruelty became a felony in 2004, some of the language is now outdated and would be fixed with this bill.

  S. 613 : An Act Relative to Prohibit Landlords from Requiring a Cat to be Declawed
This bill prohibits a landlord from refusing to rent to a person with a cat who is not declawed or from requiring a tenant’s cat be declawed.

  • Sponsor: Senator Petrucelli
  • Status:  Referred to the Committee on Housing


  H. 3571 : An Relative to Ocean Ecology and Shark Protection
This bill prohibits the possession, trade, sale, offer for sale and distribution of shark fins. 

  • Sponsor:  Rep. Jason Lewis
  • Status: 
    • In House Committee on Ways and Means
    • Received a favorable report from Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture on Nov. 20, 2013
  • Read More

 H. 918: An Act Concerning the use of Certain Insurance Underwriting Guidelines Pertaining to Dogs Harbored upon the Insured Property
Would prohibit Massachusetts homeowners insurance companies from discriminating or charging higher premiums for coverage based on breeds of dog.

S. 1626: An Act Relating to the Treatment of Elephants
This bill would prohibit any person who houses, possesses or travels with elephants utilized in traveling shows from using any implement that would result in physical harm or from keeping the elephants constantly restrained by chain or similar device. For example, the bullhook (or ankus) which is a club made of wood, metal, or other substantial material, with a sharp steel hook and metal poker at one end is commonly used to train an elephant.

S. 952 An Act Strengthening the Enforcement of Certain Dog Laws
This bill would allow MSPCA and Animal Rescue League of Boston officers to enforce the provisions in the new Ch. 140 sec 174E to be able to better protect dogs.

 H. 824: An Act Relative to Hunting or Trapping on Private Land
The burden is currently placed on property owners to post a sign if they do not want hunters to come on their property. This bill shifts the burden, so that hunters must get written permission before they engage in these activities on private property.

 Bills we oppose:

H. 753: An Act to promote the care and well-being of livestock
This bill would create a board to to "promote the care and well-being of livestock"; however, we have concerns that such a board could use factors set forth in the authorizing language to consistently vote against improved humane standards. Therefore, we oppose the bill as currently written.

H. 703: An Act Relative to Beavers  
This bill would would strike the entire Wildlife Protection Act (Ch. 131 sec. 80A) and would repeal all the restrictions on body-gripping traps. 

 H.750: An Act Conserving Our Natural Resources
This bill would strike a portion of the Wildlife Protection Act (Ch. 131 sec. 80A) to allow various local, state, and federal agencies to use restricted conibear traps, and prohibited snares and other traps, for a variety of reasons throughout the year, as well as allow the state's Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, or its agents, to use these traps during the recreational trapping season.

H. 721: An Act Valuing Our Natural Resources
This bill would amend portions of the Wildlife Protection Act (Ch. 131 sec. 80A) to allow the state's Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, or its agents, to use restricted body-gripping traps for management of furbearing wildlife during their established seasons (currently, only box/cage traps are allowed for furbearers during the trapping season). 


 H. 1976: An Act to Protect Children and Adults from Wildlife 
This bill weakens trapping restrictions; it authorizes the Department of Public Health and municipal boards of health to issue emergency permits for trapping coyote, fox or fisher cats.


H. 714:  An Act expanding the powers of the director of Fisheries and Wildlife
This bill would give the power to the director of Fisheries and Wildlife to allow bow hunting for deer on Sundays.

S. 969:  An Act relative to dangerous dogs in cities and towns
Though the new animal control law, which says that municipalities
cannot discriminate based on dog breed, has only been in effect a few months, a Boston city official is fighting to repeal that language so that they can again have an ineffective breed-discriminatory ordinance. Please ask your state legislators to support the current law and oppose any bills that would allow breed-discriminatory legislation.

H. 702: An Act expanding the powers of the director of Fisheries and Wildlife
This bill would give the power to the director of Fisheries and Wildlife to allow Sunday Hunting.


H. 3693: An Act An Act Authorizing the Use of Bow and Arrows for Sunday Hunting
This bill would allow bow hunting on Sundays.

H. 809: An Act Relative to the Hunting of Bear
This bill would strike a portion of the Wildlife Protection Act to allow hounding and baiting of bear.

H. 764: An Act Relative to Beaver Dam Emergencies
Would transfer authority for emergency permit decisions from local agencies to the state's Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.