MSPCA-Angell Headquarters

350 South Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02130
(617) 522-7400
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Angell Animal Medical Centers – Boston

350 South Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02130
(617) 522-7282
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Angell West

293 Second Avenue, Waltham, MA 02451
(781) 902-8400
For on-site assistance (check-ins and pick-ups):
(339) 970-0790
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Angell at Nashoba – Low-Cost Wellness Care

100 Littleton Road, Westford, MA 01886
(978) 577-5992
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Animal Care and Adoption Centers – Boston

350 South Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02130
(617) 522-5055
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Animal Care and Adoption Centers – Cape Cod

1577 Falmouth Road, Centerville, MA 02632
(508) 775-0940
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Animal Care and Adoption Centers – Nevins Farm

400 Broadway, Methuen, MA 01844
(978) 687-7453
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Advocates Learn to Pass Municipal Laws at Virtual Summit

The second Summit on Passing Municipal Laws for Animals held on February 6th was a huge success, despite the pandemic-imposed limitations. The event was jointly hosted by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), and the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL), and focused on empowering animal advocates across Massachusetts to pass animal protection legislation in their community. The Summit, held remotely, provided advocates an opportunity to hear from local elected officials as well as advocates about their experiences working to pass municipal laws for animals; how to craft legislation to fight puppy mills, circus animal abuse, or the fur industry; tips to navigate the local legislative process (city council, town meeting, etc.); and messaging strategies.

The Summit began with a panel of experts speaking about their experiences pursuing animal protection ordinances and bylaws in their communities and offering tips for navigating the legislative process. We were honored to host several speakers who are leaders in local animal protection efforts: Cambridge Councilor Marc McGovern, Marshfield Select Board member Steve Darcy, Wellesley advocate Liza Oliver, and Pittsfield advocate Leslie Luppino. Among many other topics, these panelists spoke about operating in a virtual environment, how to identify when your initiative is stalling and what to do about it, and balancing local voices and national groups.

For the next two sessions, members then joined issue-specific breakout rooms, focused on one of three topics: puppy mills, the fur industry, or circus animal abuse. Each breakout session featured a short video on the topic at hand followed by a panel of advocates who had worked on the issue in their communities, as well as opportunities for Q&A. In addition to the speakers mentioned above, Martha Sanders of Topsfield and Leslie Doyle, who led an ordinance in Holliston, also spoke at these issue-based sessions.

Many people have no idea where puppies sold in pet stores come from, and the reality is shocking. They are almost always born to mothers kept in filthy conditions for their entire lives. These puppies often suffer from health problems, and the unwitting families who buy them are often met with heartbreak and large veterinary bills. As a result, more than 375 communities throughout the country have enacted ordinances directed at reducing the suffering of puppy mill dogs.

Wild animals who perform in circuses are also subject to horrific treatment. Ringling may have shuttered its doors, but a number of circuses and traveling shows still bring wild animals into Massachusetts each year to perform. The use of wild animals in circuses, for rides, at fairs, and in other traveling shows subjects highly intelligent, social animals to abusive training, poor treatment, and a life on the road where they are deprived of exercise and the ability to express even the most basic natural behaviors.

More than 100 million animals are raised and killed for their fur every year. Most are raised on fur farms, where they spend their lives in deplorable conditions. Being kept in such close quarters stresses the animals and creates a breeding ground for zoonotic diseases. Just this past year, European governments killed nearly 20 million mink infected with Covid-19. Animals not raised on fur farms are trapped in the wild, typically in archaic leghold traps. Fur farming also damages the environment, with waste runoff from animals polluting the soil and waterways.

The fourth session focused on navigating participants’ particular legislative process, whether town meeting or city/town council, which differ in how legislation is introduced and passed. The groups discussed their government structure and process and effective lobbying strategies.

In the final session, participants heard from Rebecca Schwartz, a participant in the 2018 Summit on Municipal Laws, who had since successfully banned traveling wild animal acts in Amherst, now one of thirteen Massachusetts municipalities with circus bans. Schwartz spoke about the motivation and inspiration she felt after leaving the last summit, and how that, along with support from the MSPCA, and other organizations and community members, kept her going throughout challenges she encountered in passing the ordinance.

Feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive, and participants came away better informed and motivated to take action. These animal advocates from across the Commonwealth now have the tools to inspire their communities to fight puppy mills, circus animal abuse, and the fur industry. If you would like more information on how to pass local animal protection laws, please email

Photo of advocates taken during the event.

Photo of advocates taken during the event.

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