Tuesday, July 12, 2022

MA Senate Passes Animal Welfare Legislation

Senate passes bills to prevent inhumane treatment of puppies and kittens, encourage adoption of research animals, and enforce hunting regulations for endangered and threatened species

The Massachusetts State Senate on Monday passed three bills which promote animal welfare. S.2994 An Act protecting the health and safety of puppies and kittens in cities and towns ensures the safety of puppies and kittens during breeding, sale, and boarding. S.2992 An Act Protecting Research Animals, previously passed by the Senate in 2018 and commonly known as the 'Beagle Bill', encourages research facilities that use dogs and cats to offer these animals up for adoption after finishing research, rather than automatically euthanizing them. Finally, S.2993 An Act further regulating the enforcement of illegal hunting practices takes measures to discourage the illegal hunting and sale of game animals, including endangered species. 

"As a lifelong animal lover and owner, I am acutely aware of the importance of protecting the Commonwealth's animals, whether in our homes, in kennels and shared facilities, or in nature," said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). "I am also grateful for the advocates and Senators who worked to get these bills to the Senate floor. Thank you to Senators Chandler and Rodrigues for working to protect the puppies and kittens of the Commonwealth, to Senators Lovely and Tarr for continuing to lead on pushing for the Beagle Bill, and Senator Moore for your work to strengthen poaching regulations."

"The passage of these bills today is reflective of our commitment to ensuring animal welfare, protecting dogs, cats and consumers, and further regulating the enforcement of illegal hunting practices that threaten the welfare and conservation of native species important to our ecosystems and economy," said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. "I want to thank the Senate President for prioritizing these bills, along with Senators Chandler, Moore, Tarr and others for their strong advocacy in support of protecting our animals and wildlife native to our Commonwealth."

"I am proud the Massachusetts Senate passed legislation prioritizing the protection of animals across our Commonwealth," said Senator Joan B. Lovely (D-Salem), Senate Chair of the Judiciary Committee. "The Beagle Bill will give research dogs and cats a second chance at life and bring Massachusetts in line with other states across our nation. We owe so much of human advancement to the service and sacrifice of these animals, and they deserve to be loved and cherished after a job well done. I am also pleased that the Senate passed bills that will protect local wildlife by preventing poachers from hunting, as well as to safeguard the health and safety of puppies and kittens in kennels and boarding facilities. Thank you, Senate President Karen Spilka, Chair Michael Rodrigues, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, and President Emerita Harriette Chandler for taking a stand to protect and advance the well-being of beloved animals and pets throughout Massachusetts."

"This bill has the potential to truly protect the wellbeing puppies and kittens in the Commonwealth, who will otherwise suffer without clear, mandatory regulations on their purchase, storage, and caretaking. I am proud that the Senate passed this legislation," said Senate President Emerita Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester), lead sponsor of the bill on safeguards for puppies and kittens.

"The 'Beagle Bill' will facilitate new relationships between research laboratories and non-profit animal rescue organizations which in turn will give these creatures a chance of life after the lab with a Massachusetts family," said Senator Bruce E. Tarr (D-Gloucester), Senate Minority Leader and lead sponsor of the Beagle Bill. "The Senate has taken the humane and right actions on these animal welfare bills and I look forward to the Governor signing them."

"As a former Environmental Police Officer, protecting animals has been one of my life's missions. The passage of these three bills is great news for pets and wildlife in our state," said Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury), lead sponsor of the bill on illegal hunting. "The strong language of my anti-poaching legislation will go a long way toward protecting the Commonwealth's wildlife, marine life, and ecological systems, while ensuring those who wish to do harm to these fragile populations face consequences regardless of their home state. The protections provided by the other two bills passed today will ensure cats and dogs are treated humanely at every stage of their lives here in Massachusetts. I want to thank my colleagues, Massachusetts Senate Leadership, and the countless dedicated activists and volunteers who made this huge step forward in animal welfare in the state of Massachusetts possible."

Protecting Puppies and Kittens

An Act protecting the health and safety of puppies and kittens in cities and towns addresses inhumane practices relating to the transfer of pets. As separating puppies and kittens from their mother and litter prior to completion of their eight-week developmental socialization stage prevents them from learning important behaviors such as bite inhibition and the development of proper social relations with other members of their species, this bill prohibits the sale of puppies and kittens under eight weeks of age. To promote continued wellbeing of puppies and kittens in group settings, this legislation tasks the Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) with creating Massachusetts' first state-wide oversight regulations and licensure requirements of breeders, doggie daycare, and boarding facilities. The bill also ends the sale of animals on roadsides, parking lots, flea markets, or in other public spaces.

Beagle Bill

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nationally more than 60,000 dogs, almost all beagles, and nearly 20,000 cats are used each year to advance scientific research and to test cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and other household products. Currently, many research labs choose to automatically euthanize these cats and dogs once their experiments are over. An Act Protecting Research Animals, commonly known as the 'Beagle Bill', facilitates a relationship between animal research laboratories and registered non-profit animal rescue organizations and requires that when these animals are no longer needed, the research facilities make every effort to place animals up for public adoption.

Illegal Hunting

Massachusetts is currently experiencing historically unprecedented losses of species diversity, with much of the state's wildlife increasingly vulnerable to human activities like climate change and illegal hunting.  An Act further regulating the enforcement of illegal hunting practices aligns Massachusetts poaching regulations with other states, to better protect fish, birds, mammals, and endangered or threatened species.  This bill also brings Massachusetts into the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, which helps states to work together to prevent illegal hunting across state lines.

Having passed the Senate, An Act protecting the health and safety of puppies and kittens in cities and towns now goes on to the House of Representatives for further consideration. As An Act further regulating the enforcement of illegal hunting practices and An Act Protecting Research Animals have passed both branches of the legislature, a conference committee will be appointed to resolve differences between the bill's two versions, if any.

S.2994  https://malegislature.gov/Bills/192/S2994

S.2992   https://malegislature.gov/Bills/192/S2992 

S.2993  https://malegislature.gov/Bills/192/S2993 

MA Senate Passes Animal Welfare Legislation
MA Senate Passes Animal Welfare Legislation

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