BOSTON – Massachsuetts Governor Charlie Baker, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito and Administration and Finance Secretary Kristen Lepore joined the Animal Rescue League of Boston earlier this month to highlight significant changes in state regulations as part of the Baker-Polito Administration’s extensive regulatory review process, including improving the lives of shelter animals and increasing space and flexibility for animal shelters.
“When we first began this review, our commitment was to providing exceptional service and making the Commonwealth a more efficient, competitive and safer place to live, work and raise our families,” said the Governor in a statement.
“The streamlining of regulations to improve accountability to our citizens, municipalities, businesses, non-profits, healthcare providers and educational institutions was an extensive process. We are pleased to work with stakeholders like the Animal Rescue League to allow them to more efficiently do their job, serving more animals in need, and allowing them to recover humanely,” said Gov. Baker.
Consistent with national recommendations, the changes reduced quarantine periods for unvaccinated dogs and cats possibly exposed to rabies from six months to four months, allowing The Animal Rescue League and other animal shelters across the state to save and find homes for more animals in need. The changes were made as part of the Baker-Polito Administration’s extensive regulatory reform review announced by Executive Order shortly after taking office, involving over 131 listening sessions and 1,000 stakeholder comments on roughly 1,700 Executive Branch regulations, the vast majority of which have been created since 1970.
“This administration has devoted itself to better serving our Commonwealth’s cities and towns,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, in a press release.“This comprehensive review of over 1,700 regulations, in addition to municipal reform legislation enacted earlier this year, will ease restrictions and make it easier for them to do their jobs and serve their constituents.”
Executive Branch agencies collaborated across Secretariats and with outside stakeholders to review each regulation, with the goals of easing regulatory burden through simplification or consolidation, rescinding outdated and unnecessary regulations, aligning with federal requirements when appropriate and establishing a regulatory code the speaks using one voice. During the review process, agencies were required to identify when each regulation would be reviewed again and establish a process to avoid the duplication of regulations in the future.
“The Baker-Polito Administration has made making Massachusetts a better place to live a key goal since taking office,” said Administration and Finance Secretary Kristen Lepore. “This thorough review of our onerous regulatory environment will dramatically improve the business climate of Massachusetts as well as improve the quality of life for non-profits that do great work like the Animal Rescue League.”
Like many animal shelters in the Commonwealth, The Animal Rescue League of Boston, has limited quarantine space, and physical capacity limits require difficult decisions to made about the euthanizing of animals suspected to have rabies.
Earlier this year, the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians issued new recommendations in the 2016 Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention advising reducing quarantine periods to four months due to evidence animals in isolation for an extended period of six months can become stressed and depressed, even with regular human socialization.
“I’m very pleased that Secretary Beaton and the Department of Agricultural Resources were able to work with Administration and Finance to make our Massachusetts regulations consistent with the most up to date veterinary science,” said Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux. “Pet owners and their animals now will be able to resume normal activity significantly sooner with no adverse effect on public health.”
“We applaud Governor Baker and his team for taking swift action ensuring the humane treatment of animals and providing greater access to shelter space for more animals in need,” said Mary Nee, President of the Animal Rescue League of Boston. These newly revised regulations prove that Massachusetts takes animal welfare standards seriously and is willing to lead the country in adopting the National Association of Veterinary and Public Health recommendations.”
“Our shelter staff and veterinarians are eager to comply with these new common sense regulations. While rabies is a serious public health concern, science proves that excessive quarantine for animals is not necessary and is potentially harmful to otherwise healthy animals,”said Dr. Edward Schettino, Vice President of Animal Welfare and Veterinary Services. “With these new changes, we look forward to getting our current feline, Mischief, off quarantine and into a new home soon.”
Governor Baker’s Executive Order 562, signed March 31, 2015, initiated the first extensive top-to-bottom review of all state regulations enforced by the Executive Department since the Weld-Cellucci administration in 1996 when Governor Baker was the Secretary of Administration and Finance.
The government agencies that conducted the review had to demonstrate that: there is a clearly identified need for governmental intervention that is best addressed by the agency and not another agency or governmental body; the costs of the regulation do not exceed the benefits; the regulation does not exceed federal requirements or duplicate local requirements; there are not any less intrusive or restrictive alternatives; the regulation does not unduly and adversely affect Massachusetts citizens and customers of the Commonwealth, or the competitive environment in Massachusetts; there is a formal process in place for measuring the effectiveness of the regulation; and, the regulation is time-limited or provides for regular review. To assist in this process, A&F created a database to collect information on every regulation.