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Trio of Groundbreaking Animal Protection Bills Pass Massachusetts Senate

MSPCA-Angell Lauds State Lawmakers’ Support for Strong Bills to Protect both Animals and People

BOSTON, June 29, 2016 – 2016 is shaping up to be a banner year for global and regional animal protection efforts and the MSPCA-Angell  lauded the Massachusetts Senate for passing three new bills to keep pets from harm and protect consumers. The bills now head to the House for consideration before the session ends July 31.


Puppy Mills in the Spotlight
On the heels of the Boston City Council’s spring passage of the “Puppy Mill Bill,” which banned the sale of puppies, kittens and rabbits from Boston pet stores, the state Senate yesterday passed an Act to Protect Puppies and Kittens to prevent the sale of dogs or cats under eight weeks of age—thereby significantly reducing the number of sick pets sold in the state—and providing remedies to consumers who purchase sick or genetically-compromised animals.

This bill, S. 2370, sponsored by Senator Karen Spilka, would also prohibit Massachusetts pet shops from selling animals from puppy mills that have significant or repeated violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, and mandate that any breeder who sells in the Commonwealth must meet the same standards established for Massachusetts-based breeders.

Protecting Pets in Distress
In time for what will likely be another searing New England summer, Senators Mark Montigny and Patricia Jehlen’s bill, An Act to Prevent Animal Suffering and Death (S. 2369) would give first responders (police officers, fire fighters, animal control officers) explicit authority to rescue an animal from inside a car when the conditions could threaten the health of the animal due to extreme heat or cold.

The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that hundreds of pets die every year from heat exhaustion while trapped in hot cars. This bill would also provide legal immunity for any person who rescues an animal from a hot car in a good faith effort to save that animal’s life when the animal is in imminent danger.

Senate bill 2369 also protects other animals in harmful situations—such as those tethered outside for extensive periods of time or kept in other cruel conditions. The bill would enhance enforcement of the Commonwealth’s existing anti-tethering law by limiting the amount of time dogs can be tethered each day, and would empower special state police officers —such as MSPCA law enforcement officers—to enforce the improved law.

Saving Pets Left Behind in Massachusetts Homes
A third bill, sponsored by Senator James Eldridge, requires owners of rented or foreclosed properties to check for abandoned animals within three days of tenants vacating the property and report any abandoned animals to local animal control or law enforcement authorities.  The bill, S. 2375, was championed by one of the Senator’s constituents: a real estate agent who discovered a dead dog abandoned when his owners vacated their condominium.

More information on all three bills can be found on the MSPCA’s online Advocacy resource center.

“We’re so encouraged by the depth and breadth of these bills and the sheer number of animals and people who’ll be protected should all three of them pass,” said Kara Holmquist, director of Advocacy for the MSPCA-Angell.  “We look forward to Massachusetts continuing to lead the country on efforts to safeguard animals from harm and I’m confident members of the House will ensure these bills become law.”

“As an animal lover, pet owner and occasional small scale breeder, I am deeply aware of the emotional challenges for families when a pet falls ill, as well as the need to protect the health and safety of young animals,” said Senate Committee on Ways and Means Chair Senator Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland), lead sponsor of S. 2370. “This bill is the result of extensive discussion with both breeders and animal rights activists to protect consumers and puppies and kittens across the Commonwealth.”

“We have a moral responsibility to protect animals that provide boundless love and companionship to so many from the egregious and reckless abuse of neglectful owners. Today’s legislation will impose stiff penalties for such abuse and encourage good Samaritans to step forward for the animal’s safety and well-being,” stated Senator Mark Montingy (D-New Bedford).

2016: The Year of the Animals

Efforts to protect animals large and small have taken center stage in 2016, beginning with Ringling Bros.’ unexpected January announcement that it would retire its performing elephants to sanctuary.  Since then, SeaWorld announced it will get out of the business of breeding orcas and unveiled a future that does not include animal performances.  More recently, the National Aquarium announced it would transition its bottle nose dolphins to a seaside sanctuary.

Here at home, efforts to ensure farm animals can stand up, turn around and fully extend their limbs have heated up.  The final round of signature gathering for the historic Massachusetts ballot initiative netted more than 40,000 signatures—ten times the number required—all but ensuring citizens can vote to stop cruelty at the ballot box this November.


The MSPCA-Angell is a national and international leader in animal protection and veterinary medicine and provides direct hands-on care for thousands of animals each year. Founded in 1868, it is the second-oldest humane society in the United States. Services include animal protection and adoption, advocacy, humane education, law enforcement, and world-class veterinary care. The MSPCA-Angell is a private, non-profit organization. It does not receive any government funding nor is it funded or operated by any national humane organization. The MSPCA-Angell relies solely on the support and contributions from individuals who care about animals. Please visit and like us on Facebook at