(BOSTON – 07/11/2022) 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.
“I’m proud to have been a cosponsor of all three of these crucial pieces of animal welfare legislation,” said State Senator Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth). “By preventing inhumane treatment of puppies and kittens, encouraging adoption of research animals, and enforcing hunting regulations for endangered and threatened species, we are ensuring that animals in Massachusetts are treated with dignity and as humanely as 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.
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.
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.
Senator Patrick O’Connor represents the Plymouth and Norfolk district, which includes the towns of Cohasset, Duxbury, Hingham, Hull, Marshfield, Norwell, Scituate, and Weymouth. Sen. O’Connor and his staff may be reached at the State House at 617-722-1646 or by email at Patrick.O’[email protected].