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Boston City Councilor Proposes Measure to Make Boston “More Humane Environment” for Animals

Councilor Liz Breadon’s Proposal Would Ban Sale of Guinea Pigs in Boston Pet Shops  

BOSTON, Mass. March 22, 2023 – Today, Boston City Councilor Liz Breadon introduced a measure to update the city’s humane pet shop ordinance to add guinea pigs to the list of animals pet shops are prohibited from selling in Boston. In 2016, former Councilor Matt O’Malley sponsored the original measure that prevented pet shops from selling dogs, cats, and/or rabbits. It unanimously passed the city council.

The update of this ordinance comes at a time when animal shelters and rescues are experiencing a significant uptick in the number of guinea pigs both surrendered and found as strays. The MSPCA’s Boston Adoption Center has seen a 37% increase in the number of guinea pigs surrendered since the start of the pandemic. More than 60% of those surrenders were guinea pigs purchased at pet shops.

According to Boston city data, there has been a 56% increase in abandoned and stray guinea pigs between 2021 and 2022. The city’s 311 records also document animal control responding to many calls about stray guinea pigs.

Speaking of the proposal, Councilor Breadon 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 demonstrates that it is important for Boston to foster a more humane environment in the city.”

“There’s been a 64% increase in the intake of guinea pigs in our MSPCA facilities over the past decade, a time in which we’ve seen a 60% decrease in overall intake of animals,” said Mike Keiley, MSPCA-Angell Director of Adoption Centers and Programs. “This is due in part to continued guinea pig sales in pet stores, too many of which end up homeless.”

Keiley added, “We applaud this ordinance and urge the city to pass it without delay.”

Coupled with the increase in intake, guinea pigs remain in shelters nearly twice as long as cats and dogs. The average length of stay at the MSPCA for a guinea pig last year was 29 days—compared to just 13 days for cats. As a result, cages at the MSPCA and other local shelters are consistently full, making it challenging to readily accept additional guinea pigs and other small animals throughout the year.

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

2023 Renewal 5