Senate to consider animal adoption and safety bills

Bills aim to regulate the sale of animals through breeders and pet shops

BOSTON (State House News Service) – Geared up for three days of debate this week, the Senate will begin Tuesday by considering three animal-related bills and the combined 15 amendments members have proposed to them.

Puppies and kittens are the focus of S 2370, which would prevent the sale of dogs or cats less than eight weeks of age, provide a remedy for the sale of sick dogs and cats, and regulate certain breeders and prevent pet shops from obtaining puppies and kittens from USDA breeders with multiple violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

Senators have filed nine amendments to that bill, including a Sen. Mark Montigny amendment that would establish a fine of at least $2,500 for anyone who runs a kennel without a license, unless they agree to forfeit custody of the dogs.

Montigny and Minority Leader Bruce Tarr joined forces to propose directing the commissioner of agricultural resources to develop regulations “to assure humane treatment of animals” including “animal health and vaccination records, records of mortality and euthanasia, documentation of sufficient food, clean water, space such that the animal can turn and stretch freely, the standards and frequency of inspections of commercial breeder kennels.”

Sen. John Keenan of Quincy, who filed eight of the 15 animal bill amendments, put forward five amendments to the puppies and kittens bill, clarifying who is authorized to inspect kennels or catteries and providing for the reimbursement of all point of sale fees in the event of an illegal animal sale or adoption.

The Senate also has teed up a bill (S 878 and Rules Committee redraft 2369) that would provide civil penalties for abandoning an animal in a hot car and would make clear that police officers, firefighters and animal control officers may enter a hot car for the sole purpose of releasing an animal believed to be in danger.

Sen. William Brownsberger, who co-chairs the Judiciary Committee, filed an amendment to change a section of the bill that prohibits law enforcement officers from searching a car they broke into to remove an animal unless allowed by law. Brownsberger’s amendment would give police and firefighters the authority to search the vehicle if “the search or seizure is necessary to avert a dire emergency and … otherwise permitted by law.”

Tarr filed an amendment that would add to the bill a prohibition on wild or exotic animal exhibitions or performances. The amendment would ban mobile exotic animal shows “to protect wild and exotic animals from cruel and inhumane treatment, and to protect the public from dangers inherent to traveling exhibitions and acts featuring wild and exotic animals.”

The amendment includes exemptions for permanent institutions associated with national zoo or aquarium organizations, university or laboratory research facilities, and outreach programs “for educational or conservation purposes.”

Also on the Senate’s calendar Tuesday is S 2174, which would require that landlords or foreclosing owners inspect any property vacated by foreclosure, termination of tenancy, or abandonment within three days for the presence of abandoned animals and immediately notify animal control or police officers if any animals are found.

Keenan filed the sole amendment to the bill, which would require the landlord or foreclosing owner to also report the presence of animal remains on the property.

The Senate is also expected Tuesday to consider a bill (S 454) and a Ways and Means Committee redraft (S 2308) that would require each of the state’s cities and towns to reduce their solid waste to no more than 600 pounds per capita by July 2018 and no more than 450 pounds per capita by July 2022. A similar iteration of the bill passed the Senate, but not the House, in 2014.

The Senate is expected to begin debate at 1 p.m. Senate Democrats are holding a caucus in the Senate President’s office at 11 a.m.

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