Massachusetts communities are saying “NO” to puppy mills. In less than a month, North Adams, Plymouth, and Springfield all passed laws that ban the sale of commercially bred puppies, kittens, and rabbits from a retail establishment. However, these laws allow shelters and rescues to showcase their animals in those facilities. Now 9 municipalities in Massachusetts and over 380 municipalities across the country have passed similar measures in the fight against puppy mills!
“Puppy mill” is a term that is frequently used to describe a large-scale commercial breeding facility where dogs are kept in conditions that the public would not consider humane and where dogs are repeatedly bred to generate as many puppies as possible for the retail pet market. Female dogs are treated as breeding machines and puppies are born into sickness and disease, stacked in wire cages with very little oversight or federal enforcement. Puppies sold in pets stores are notoriously known for being sourced from puppy mills. No responsible breeder would sell a dog or cat to a pet store, a broker, or over the internet. Responsible breeders care about the well-being of their animals and want to place them in loving and carefully selected homes. Responsible breeders also keep track of the health of animals they sell in order to catch any possible genetic conditions they need to know about when making breeding decisions in the future.
Massachusetts families deserve better than unknowingly supporting the puppy mill industry and buying sick or behaviorally challenged puppies. Too many families are unable to afford the sudden and unexpected veterinary bills that often accompany animals sourced from mills, and may have to make the choice to relinquish their pet animal to a shelter or rescue organization. A study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association concluded that pet shop dogs are more likely to exhibit aggression, inappropriate elimination, biting, and other behavioral problems, all of which are common factors leading to the surrender of a dog.
With their local ordinances and bylaws in place, Boston, Cambridge, Stoneham, Pittsfield, Holliston, Marshfield, North Adams, Plymouth, and Springfield will never contribute to this cruel industry.
Municipal ordinances and bylaws are an effective way to help animals on the local level, and could lead to great success on the state level. In the short term, by passing a local ordinance, residents have the ability to help animals in the community, and provide a model for other cities and towns. Long term, these laws lend momentum to statewide initiatives. The state legislature runs on a 2 year cycle, and it can take many sessions before change for animals is made through state law. However, momentum on the local level can lead to bill movement and can be the reason why a bill passes. Legislators call these “tipping point issues,” where there is so much support in cities and towns, they see no reason not to pass a statewide bill.
The state legislation, S. 230/H. 384: An Act banning the retail sale of cats and dogs in pet shops, sponsored by Senator Patrick O’Connor and Representative Natalie Higgins was recently referred to the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure. Please ask your state legislators to support these bills. You can find out who represents you at www.wheredoivotema.com.
If you would like more information on how to pass local animal protection laws, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay up to speed on our efforts by joining our Animal Action Team at www.mspca.org/jointheteam, and remember to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.