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.
While Massachusetts is a leader on the protection of animals in many ways, the lack of regulations to protect animals who are kept in kennels across the state is a significant gap that often results in tragic consequences.
Massachusetts currently has no state oversight of breeders or daycare/boarding facilities. The only requirement for anyone with more than four dogs is to obtain a kennel license from the city or town. This bill would require the Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) to establish reasonable rules and regulations for boarding kennels and daycare facilities, as well as for higher-volume breeding kennels producing dogs for the public.
Oversight of kennels varies significantly from municipality to municipality, as provided through local kennel licenses. Not all municipalities issue kennel licenses, and even when they do, 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. Animal control officers, consumers, veterinarians, and others have provided detailed examples as to why promulgating regulations, beyond a kennel license, is necessary.
Regulations: Would generally cover minimum housing and care requirements.
Committee input: A committee, consisting of a variety of stakeholders and experts, will be formed to advise MDAR on these regulations.
Injury Reporting: If an investigation about a dog or humane injury at a boarding or daycare kennel results in an enforcement action, this will be made available on the state’s website, to provide consumers with information to help their decision making.
Enforcement: Animal control officers on the local level inspect kennels and, under these bills, would have more guidance for these inspections. Additionally, the state will be able to assist when needed. The existing kennel enforcement statute (Ch. 140 § 137C) has been updated to offer more clear parameters for conducting inspections.
Assisting municipalities: In addition to the guidance and assistance from MDAR, municipalities and their animals control officers will have clear language that will: 1) ensure a safe maximum number of animals that may be maintained by a kennel – determined by licensing authority and the animal control officer following the required inspection, and in accordance with regulations – ensuring the property can support the number of animals while ensuring their health and safety; and 2) clearly require that municipalities issue and revoke kennel licenses. Some cities and towns aren’t doing this, leaving facilities housing often large numbers of dogs without any mechanism to ensure their health and safety.
Massachusetts pets suffer because of insufficient standards for boarding kennels and dog daycare facilities. Animal welfare attorney Jeremy Cohen of Boston Dog Lawyers estimates that a dog is mauled or killed every 10 days at a boarding kennel in Massachusetts.
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.
Weasley, a 10-year-old yorkie/chihuahua who died September 7th, 2022
One of the latest tragedies happened to Weasley. His owners had to travel to another state after a death in the family. Within less than 24 hours and one hour before their family member’s funeral service, they received a call from Chris Quinn (owner) of Happy Tails located in Sandwich, MA. He advised them that Weasley has passed away in his sleep. However, an autopsy showed otherwise — he suffered from cervical bite wounds with crush injury from another dog. Mr. Quinn continued to maintain that Weasley died in his sleep despite the necropsy report findings. Weasley now joins the list of dozens and dozens of dogs who have been killed while being boarded or in daycare in recent years.
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.