The 2-year session began on January 2. Usually, more than 5,000 bills are filed at the beginning of a session and another couple of thousand are late-filed. Once bills are filed, they need as many co-sponsors as possible, as strongly supported bills are more likely to move through the legislature.
You can help animals this legislative session by asking your state representative and state senator to co-sponsor the House Dockets (HD) and Senate Dockets (SD) below. Find out how to contact your legislators here! You can also follow up your call with an email. (Note that these docket numbers will change to bill numbers in upcoming months).
Legislators have only until February 1 to co-sponsor House bills. Legislators have until bills are reported from Committee (many months) to sign on to Senate bills.
Please visit www.mspca.org/currentlegislation for up-to-date information on pending bills and join our Animal Action Team to receive updates at www.mspca.org/JoinTheTeam.
An Act Protecting the Health and Safety of Puppies and Kittens in Cities and Towns – SD 1947, HD 3564
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. Sponsors: Senator Chandler, Representative Campbell
An Act Relative to the Use of Elephants, Big Cats, Primates, and Bears in Traveling Exhibits and Shows – SD 588, HD 576
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. The use of these animals in traveling shows subjects 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 even the most basic, natural behaviors. Sponsors: Representative Ehrlich, Representative Jones, Senator Tarr
An Act Enhancing the Issuance of Citations for Cruel Conditions for Animals – SD 1728, HD 2214
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. The bills extend this protection to all domestic animals and also update language to ensure dogs left outside and unattended are afforded protections. Broadening the current statute’s scope in this way allows a quick and effective response to problematic situations involving animals, preventing them from escalating. Sponsors: Senator Montigny, Representative Puppolo
An Act Relating to the Remedy for the Sale of Sick Puppies and Kittens – SD 1719, HD 3352
These bills provide fair and reasonable recourse in the event 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 regularly spend money on veterinary bills and often choose to retain the puppy or kitten 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. Sponsors: Senator Welch, Representative D. Rogers
An Act Relative to Ivory and Rhinoceros Horn Trafficking – SD 60, HD 148
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. Sponsors: Senator Lewis, Representative Ehrlich
An Act Concerning the Use of Certain Insurance Underwriting Guidelines Pertaining to Dogs Harbored Upon the Insured Property – SD 976, HD 1930
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. Sponsors: Senator Gobi, Representative Lewis
An Act Banning the Retail Sale of Cats and Dogs in Pet Shops – SD 1220, HD 3134
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 and have also documented the sale of puppies from the worst “puppy mills” in the country to Massachusetts via pet shops. Sponsors: Senator O’Connor and Representative Higgins
An Act Further Regulating the Enforcement of Illegal Hunting Practices – SD 1712, HD 3557
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 other states’ and thus will deter would-be poachers, and protect wildlife, tourism, and business in the Commonwealth. Sponsors: Senator Moore, Representative Ehrlich, Representative Ferrante
We will again be watching out for bill that will be harmful to animals, including those that weaken the laws relating to the trapping of fur-bearing mammal, remove the provision on hunting on Sundays, or attempt to repeal the PAWS II provision prohibiting the drowning of animals.