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City of Boston Ordinance on Pet Shop and Roadside Sales

December 20, 2023: Guinea Pigs were added to this ordinance, in an amendment filed by Councilor Liz Breadon and signed by Mayor Wu.

March 2, 2016: The Boston City Council UNANIMOUSLY PASSED the Puppy Mill Bill! Thanks to City Councilor Matt O’Malley and all members of the Boston City Council for making Boston the first town in MA to pass a bill banning pet shops from selling cats, dogs, and rabbits!

“Puppy Mill Bill” Councilor Matt O’Malley Announces “Puppy Mill Bill” to Ban the Sale of Puppies, Kittens and Rabbits from Pet Shops and on Roadsides in Boston

Boston Residents and Animal Protection Advocates Hold Media Event at MSPCA-Angell to Urge Passage of Ordinance

Boston ciyt councilor Matt O'Malley and puppy, Ferguson resizedBOSTON, February 22, 2016 – Boston City Councilor Matt O’Malley introduced today an ordinance dubbed “the puppy mill bill” that would prohibit pet shops in Boston from selling dogs, cats, or rabbits and would prevent animal sales in public parks and on city streets.

Councilor O’Malley made the announcement at the MSPCA-Angell in Boston. Boston residents, animal advocates and consumers—many of whom have purchased animals at pet stores who later turned out to be sick—cheered the measure, and urged positive action on the ordinance from the Boston City Council.

If the ordinance is enacted, Boston will join more than 120 municipalities that have banned the sale of commercially bred puppies and kittens from pet shops. Most animals sold at pet shops come from large-scale breeding facilities, many of which have multiple violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act. These include severe problems such as minimal to non-existent veterinary care; lack of adequate and nutritious food, water and shelter; lack of socialization; lack of adequate space; and lack of adequate exercise.

Boston City Councilor Matt O’Malley said, “I am proud to introduce this ordinance that will not only protect animals, but seeks to prevent financial and emotional costs to the city and its residents, and demonstrate that it is important for Boston to foster a more humane environment in the city.”

“We have seen a sharp increase in the number of rabbits surrendered to our Boston adoption center—a 50 percent rise in the last year alone—due in part to continued rabbit sales in pet stores, too many of which end up homeless,” said Laura Hagen, deputy director of advocacy, MSPCA-Angell. “We applaud this legislation and urge the city to pass it without delay.”

Preventing “Drive By Pet Sales”

The ordinance will also prevent “roadside sales” of animals. Often people who are not responsibly breeding animals and looking to make a quick profit will sell animals in public parks or on sidewalks and streets, leaving no recourse for residents if the animal becomes sick or exhibits other problems caused from poor breeding practices.

Councilor O’Malley added, “the ordinance will not affect a consumer’s ability to obtain a dog, cat, or rabbit of his or her choice directly from a shelter, rescue organization, or a breeder.”

By prohibiting the sale of animals from pet stores, the ordinance also prevents the costs consumers face when they find their new animal comes with health and behavioral issues that may not present immediately or until some time after the purchase.

Leaders in the animal protection community universally support the announcement and look forward to its swift passage by the city council.

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