S. 595/S. 582/H. 305/H. 949: Doggie Daycare and Boarding Kennels (Ollie’s Law)
MSPCA Position: Support
Sponsors: Senator Patrick O’Connor (S. 595); Senator Mark Montigny (S. 582); Representative Brian Ashe (H. 305); Representative Hannah Kane (H. 949)
Status:Referred to Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture (S. 595/S. 582/H. 949)/Referred to Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure (H. 305)
Ollie, who died after sustaining grievous injuries in a dog fight at a doggie daycare. His owner never received any answers as to how or why the fight happened.
Overview: These bills would require the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources to promulgate rules and regulations regarding boarding kennels and daycare facilities for dogs, including home-based kennels and daycare facilities. The minimum standards established by this legislation would protect consumers, as well as ensure animal welfare and staff safety.
Massachusetts General Law Chapter 140 Section 136A defines ‘kennel’ as “a pack or collection of dogs on a single premise, including a commercial boarding or training kennel, commercial breeder kennel, domestic charitable corporation kennel, personal kennel or veterinary kennel.”
The only requirement to keep more than four dogs is to obtain a kennel license from the city or town. Oversight of boarding kennels and daycare facilities for dogs varies significantly from municipality to municipality, as provided through local kennel licenses. A kennel license is not adequate; it is a bare minimum requirement that simply states that the kennel must be maintained in a sanitary and humane manner. Several animal control officers, consumers, and others have provided detailed examples as to why promulgating regulations, beyond a kennel license, is necessary.
While the language in each bill varies, regulations would generally cover these areas: staff qualifications and professional development, provider/dog ratios and interaction, group sizes and supervision, minimum housing and care requirements, indoor and outdoor physical facility requirements, utilities, dog handling, body language interpretation, breed familiarity, emergency response training, and insurance.
Consumers deserve boarding kennels and daycare facilities for dogs that provide quality care—and give dog owners and guardians peace of mind. The public should be able to trust their companion animal’s care to professionals while they’re at work, out of town, or otherwise unavailable. These facilities allow a pet to avoid the stress of long car or plane rides, stay where they’re welcome and safe (unlike many workplaces and hotels), receive more attention and supervision than if left home alone, be monitored by staff for health concerns, and be housed securely enough to foil animal escape artists. Animals should be protected while their owners are away. Consumers deserve to be able to trust that pet care professionals—including the staff at boarding kennels and daycare facilities for dogs—meet certain minimum standards.
Massachusetts pets suffer because of insufficient standards for boarding kennels and dog daycare facilities.
Ollie, Pampered Pets Doggy Daycare and Spa, East Longmeadow, MA[i]
In 2020, Amy Baxter got an alarming text from Pampered Pets: her 7-month-old Labradoodle puppy, Ollie, had been injured in a dog fight. When she arrived to pick him up, he had wounds all over his body. Ollie needed round-the-clock care and surgery, and was in the hospital for two months before succumbing to his injuries. Amy never received answers from the facility on how and why her dog was injured so badly.
Zuri, Paws With Inn, Ipswich, MA[ii]
In 2019, Justin and Casey Burkinshaw were informed their 4 pound dog Zuri was attacked and killed less than an hour after they had dropped her off by a 30 pound miniature bulldog. The two dogs were being kept in the same “tiny paws” section of the kennel, a section that is supposed to be for small dogs of up to 20 pounds, when the miniature bulldog reportedly grabbed Zuri by the neck and shook her. A veterinarian determined the ultimate cause of death was a broken neck.
Maximus, Annie’s Clean Critters, Whitman, MA[iii]
In 2016, Rob Foley went to pick up his 9-year-old German Shepherd, Maximus, three days after he left him at Annie’s Clean Critters, but was told Maximus had died from stomach bloat just hours earlier. When authorities asked the kennel owners to release their surveillance tapes, Maximus was seen being kept in a cage no bigger than a cat’s for over 30 hours, unattended. The rest of the time, he was kept outside without water or shelter from the sun.
Ben, Briarwood Kennel, Hanover, MA[iv]
In 2016, Tracey Siciliano left her Goldendoodle, Ben, at Briarwood Kennel, but when she went back to get him, she didn’t see the same dog she left. Siciliano brought Ben to a vet who told her Ben had a fever of 106 from heat stroke and was dehydrated. He was also suffering from gashes, bites, and bruises from the kennel owner’s dog, who attacked Ben during his stay. Later that night, Ben suffered from a stroke and died in critical care.
Penny, Monumentails, Charlestown, MA[v]
In 2015, Cassie Olson left her 7-year-old rescue mix in Monumentails for one night. She was called the next day and told that there had been a fire and her beloved dog and five other pets had died. When Cassie looked into the details of the fire, she found that the owner of the kennel had left the animals unattended in the house while they went shopping, leaving them with no chance at escaping the fire.
Dexter, Ashland Kennel, Ashland, MA[vi]
In 2014, Michael Edison informed his kennel supervisor, Kimberly Cardiff, that Dexter, a 1-year old Lab, had attacked him. When Cardiff watched the security footage, she saw that Edison had abused the dog. Dexter had not wanted to come inside after playing, so Edison kicked him multiple times and threw him to the ground. Edison made bail and is now no longer allowed to go within 15 feet of an animal, other than his two cats.
[i] Pugliese, K, Russo, A. “Local family fights for change after mauling at dog daycare.” Western Mass News. 19 Oct 2020. https://www.westernmassnews.com/news/local-family-fights-for-change-after-mauling-at-dog-daycare/article_c851e63a-124d-11eb-bbdc-83f8bee58d54.html.
[ii] Leighton, Paul. “Questions Raised after Dog’s Death in Day Care.” Salem News, 14 May 2019, www.salemnews.com/news/local_news/questions-raised-after-dogs-death-in-day-care/image_c12f7d59-0f76-516a-98d0-4ee7bbfc442d.html.
[iii] Shepard, C. “Dog’s Death Leads to Animal Cruelty Charges at Whitman Kennel.” The Enterprise. 21 Mar 2017. https://www.enterprisenews.com/news/20170317/dogs-death-leads-to-animal-cruelty-charges-at-whitman-kennel.
[iv] Lambert, Lane. “Dog’s Mauling Death Prompts Investigation at Hanover Kennel.” The Patriot Ledger. 9 Aug 2016. https://www.patriotledger.com/news/20160809/dogs-mauling-death-prompts-investigation-at-hanover-kennel.
[v] Personal communication.
[vi] Inc., Hearst Television. “Kennel Worker Repeatedly Beat Dog, Police Say.” WCVB. 6 May 2014. https://www.wcvb.com/article/ashland-kennel-worker-repeatedly-beat-dog-authorities-say/8200795.