House Bill 1825, An Act Regulating the Sale of Dogs (and Cats)
Sponsor: Representative Coakley-Rivera
What would this bill do?
This bill would prohibit the sale of puppies under 8 weeks of age, thereby reducing the behavior problems that can accompany early separation from the mother.
Specifically, this bill would establish a new section in Chapter 140: section 138B would state that:
“No person, commercial establishment, pet shops, firm or corporation shall sell in the commonwealth a dog or cat less than 8 weeks of age. Violation of this section shall result in a $100 fine per offense.”
What other similar laws exist?
Currently, in Massachusetts statute, there is a provision in Chapter 140 section 138A that states (in part): “No commercial establishment, pet shop, firm or corporation shall import into the commonwealth for sale or resale in the commonwealth any cat or dog less than eight weeks of age.” However, this provision does not apply to individuals within the commonwealth who might sell a dog under this age.
Approximately 18 states have some provision in their statutes to prevent the sale of puppies younger than 8 weeks of age and at least 12 have laws that apply to any person who sells an underage puppy.
Why is this bill important?
Separating puppies from their mothers at too young and age can create both health and socialization problems. Early separation removes the opportunity for puppies to taught appropriate behavior. For example, puppies learn social structures, dominance, and patience. When separated too early, a foundation for training can be more difficult to establish. Early separation can result in separation anxiety, destructive behavior and lack of bite inhibition. One study using a control group found that disease susceptibility and mortality was higher in puppies with a shorter maternal contact period.
Early separation from the mother and the resulting loss of learning appropriate behavior is one of the causes of behavioral problems that can lead to a dog being relinquished to a shelter. This situation can make these dogs more difficult to adopt and, in worst scenarios, can be a public safety threat and contribute to the likelihood of dog bites.