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State Legislation

2021-2022 Massachusetts Legislative Session

The current session started on January 6, 2021 and ends on July 31, 2022. The deadline for bills to be filed was February 19, 2021. Usually, more than 6,000 bills are filed at the beginning of a session and another couple of thousand are late-filed.

Legislators have until bills are reported from their first committee to co-sponsor bills. Find out how to contact your legislators, and learn tips on how to engage with them. 

And to receive ongoing updates, join our Animal Action Team, like our Facebook page, and follow us on Instagram and Twitter.


Bills We Support:

S. 613/H. 901/H. 890: An Act protecting research animals
This bill facilitates a relationship between laboratories that use dogs and cats for research purposes and registered non-profit animal rescue organizations in order to make suitable retired laboratory dogs and cats available for public adoption.

S. 1606/H. 2547: An Act providing for the care and transportation of police dogs injured in the line of duty (Nero’s Law)
This bill would allow a law enforcement dog injured in the line of duty to be treated and transported in an ambulance if there is not competing need for human transport.

S. 2481: An Act to upgrade hen welfare and establish uniform cage-free standards for egg-laying hens
This bill would upgrade conditions for egg-laying hens by mandating that they be able to engage in certain vital natural behaviors such as perching, nesting in boxes, dust bathing, and fully extending their wings.

S. 885/H. 1437: An Act to maintain stable housing for families with pets in an economic crisis and beyond
This legislation ensures that certain types of housing agreements (such as condo bylaws, some leases, etc.), as well as public housing authorities, cannot discriminate against, or include language that limits, a tenant or resident’s ability to live in that type of housing based on the size, weight, or perceived breed of a dog owned by a tenant/resident. It also prevents insurance companies from discriminating based on dog breed.

S. 2251/H. 3376: An Act relative to the use of elephants, big cats, primates, giraffes, and bears in traveling exhibits and shows
These bills prohibit the use of elephants, big cats, primates, bears, and giraffes in traveling shows in Massachusetts. These shows—using dangerous animals—are not only detrimental to animal welfare, but also present a public safety risk. Such traveling shows subject highly intelligent, social animals to coercive and abusive treatment and near-constant travel where they are deprived of exercise and the ability to express their most basic, natural behaviors, all while simultaneously putting the public at risk of both disease and injury.

S. 943/H. 1716: An Act addressing investigations of reports of abuse and neglect
This bill would improve laws relating to the reporting of animal abuse by human services agencies by removing the time limitation by which they need to make such reports.

S. 230/H. 384: An Act banning the retail sale of cats and dogs in pet shops
This legislation would prohibit the sale of puppies, kittens, and rabbits in pet shops unless the animals are from shelters or rescue organizations. Typically, pet shops instead obtain animals from substandard breeding facilities, which results in consumers unknowingly purchasing sick or genetically-compromised pets. Massachusetts state records consistently document such complaints from across the Commonwealth. State and federal records have also demonstrated that puppies from the worst “puppy mills” in the country have been sold to Massachusetts consumers via pet shops. These bills thus protect both animals and consumers, while having no impact on responsible breeders.

S. 576/H. 903: An Act relative to ivory and rhinoceros horn trafficking
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 no longer contributes 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, and forest elephants are predicted to be extinct within a decade if current poaching rates continue. All five subspecies of rhinos are endangered. This unprecedented poaching crisis is not just a global or federal issue, however. Massachusetts plays a substantial role, and bold action is required on the state level to save elephants and rhinos from extinction.

S. 587/H. 904: An Act further regulating the enforcement of illegal hunting practices
These bills modernize penalties for poaching—some of which have not been updated in nearly a century—and enters Massachusetts into an interstate law enforcement network, ending our status as a poacher’s paradise. Currently, only two states are non-members of the Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact: Massachusetts and Hawaii. By joining this compact and by updating our poaching penalties to bring them in line with those of other states, Massachusetts would be able to deter would-be poachers, while also protecting wildlife, tourism, and business in the Commonwealth.

S. 595/S. 582/H. 305/H. 949: Doggie Daycare and Boarding Kennels (Ollie’s Law)
Massachusetts currently has no state oversight of doggie daycare or boarding kennels. This legislation would require reasonable rules and regulations of these facilities, such as specifications on staff to dog ratios, group sizes and supervision, minimum housing and care requirements, indoor and outdoor physical facility requirements, dog handling, and insurance. Many families in Massachusetts have suffered the loss or injury of a companion animal at a doggie daycare or kennel—tragedies that could be mitigated by commonsense oversight of these facilities.

S. 1111/H. 1824/H. 1656: Protecting animals from convicted animal abusers
This legislation would prohibit a person who is convicted of animal cruelty from owning or possessing an animal for a period of time determined by the court. It also would enable additional monies to be directed to the Massachusetts Animal Fund for the purpose of spaying/neutering and vaccinating homeless dogs and cats or those who live with low-income families.

S. 623/H. 965: An Act prohibiting the sale of fur products
This legislation would prohibit the sale of new fur products in Massachusetts. Horrific animal cruelty is involved in making fur products. On fur factory farms, wild animals spend their entire lives in cramped cages, deprived of the ability to engage in natural behaviors. The stress from living in a tiny cage causes serious welfare problems, such as self-mutilation and infected wounds, and can increase pathogen shedding and the risk of zoonotic disease transmission, such as COVID-19.

S. 1322/H. 2148: An Act protecting the health and safety of puppies and kittens in cities and towns
This bill prohibits the sale of puppies and kittens under 8 weeks old; requires the promulgation of rules and regulations for boarding facilities and breeders; prohibits the roadside sale of animals; updates several laws relating to the regulations of kennels; and clarifies that the law does not consider dogs and cats livestock.

S. 1097/H. 1840: An Act enhancing the issuance of citations for cruel conditions for animals  
This legislation expands upon current law, found in Ch. 140 sec. 174E, which allows citations to be issued when dogs are kept in cruel conditions. This legislation extends this protection to all domestic animals. Broadening the current statute’s scope in this way allows an effective response to problematic situations without escalating them prematurely.

S. 222: An Act prohibiting inhumane feline declawing
This bill prohibits the declawing, onychectomy, or tendonectomy of a cat. The standard, elective, declawing procedure calls for the removal of the claw and the first bone of the toe. The operation is usually performed on the front feet, and is in fact an amputation comparable to the removal of human fingertips at the first knuckle.

S. 584/H. 966: An Act concerning the use of animals in product testing
This legislation requires the use of non-animal test methods when availableAlternatives provide information of equivalent or superior quality and relevance to humans in comparison to animal tests. This bill applies to products such as cosmetics, household cleaners, and industrial chemicals, like those in paint; it does not apply to testing done for medical research, including testing of drugs or medical devices.

S. 583: An Act to provide additional funding for animal welfare and safety programming
This bill would enable additional monies to be directed to the Mass Animal Fund for the purpose of spaying, neutering or vaccinating homeless dogs and cats, or those that live with low-income families, by stipulating that administrative fines issued pursuant to Section 37 of Chapter 129 (“Enforcement actions; jurisdiction of commissioner of agriculture, district and superior courts”) would go to the Fund.

S. 1099: An Act relative to improving enforcement for tethering violations
This bill amends Ch. 140 sec. 174E regarding the chaining, tethering or confinement of dogs; bans keeping a dog outside and unattended for more than 5 hours; prohibits tethering a dog in a way that allows the dog to leave the owner’s property; prohibits use of pinch collars or choke collars for tethering; requires dog shelters used for confining dogs outside to have a flap or other mechanism that blocks the elements; prohibits leaving a dog outside during a weather advisory or watch.

H. 3991: An Act relative to pesticides
This bill requires digitization of pesticide use forms for better monitoring of the use of Second Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticides (SGARs), requires pesticide companies to provide customers with written information on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies and the effects of SGARs on wildlife and the environment, and requires the increased use of IPM strategies in Massachusetts.

S. 177: An Act to prohibit simulcast wagering on dog racing
This bill prohibits the betting or wagering on simulcast dog racing. In 2008, voters ended live greyhound racing in Massachusetts. This bill is in addition to that law.

Bills We Oppose:

H. 1019/H. 984/H. 1015/H. 914/H. 1023/S. 547: Sunday hunting legislation
These bills would, in various ways, end the statewide ban on Sunday hunting. 86% of Massachusetts residents want to maintain the ban on Sunday hunting while hunters represent just 1% of the Massachusetts population. These bills prioritize a small minority over an overwhelming majority of Massachusetts residents who rely on Sunday to be the one day of the week during hunting season when they can safely venture into the woods without fear of an accident. As the third most densely populated state in the nation, lifting our Sunday hunting ban would introduce unnecessary risk to the public, as well as to the companion animals with whom they spend time in the outdoors.

S. 554/H. 1022/H. 1016/H. 913: Trapping Legislation
This legislation would remove or weaken current restrictions on cruel body-gripping Conibear and leghold (sometimes called foot-hold) traps, which are used to capture fur-bearing animals, such as beaver and coyote. These changes would effectively allow a return to the days of recreational trapping with these inhumane and indiscriminate devices, something that 64% of Massachusetts voters rejected in 1996 when they voted in favor of the Wildlife Protection Act ballot initiative.

S. 547/H. 1023: An Act relative to outdoor heritage
This legislation removes certain prohibitions on carrying firearms, making enforcing poaching laws more difficult; would lift the statewide ban on Sunday hunting; would lift the ban on moose hunting; would allow the use of dogs to hunt upland game and expand the use of dogs for hunting waterfowl (removing the restriction limiting this to just coastal waters and salt marshes); and would change hunter harassment laws from a civil to criminal penalty.

H. 1021: An Act relative to hunting with artificial light
This bill would expand an already-archaic Massachusetts state law that permits spotlighting, which involves shining a bright light at a target animal to blind, and thus paralyze it. While blinded and frozen in place, they are shot. Most states ban spotlighting because it is considered unsporting, but these bills expand the practice. Spotlighting is also dangerous to public health because hunters often spotlight not far from dark roads and cannot easily see passing cars or people who may be in the surrounding area and harm’s way.

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