BOSTON – Today, March 15, the Massachusetts Senate passed legislation to improve several areas of current law dealing with the sale and treatment of dogs and cats.
Senate 1155, An Act relative to protecting puppies and kittens, filed by Senator Karen Spilka, ensures that puppies and kittens are bred and sold in safe and healthy environments and strengthens the Massachusetts “Puppy Lemon Law” to give pet owners more options if they unknowingly purchase a sick pet.
“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 the bill.
“This bill is the result of extensive discussion with both breeders and animal rights activists to protect puppies, kittens and pet owners across the Commonwealth,” said Sen. Spilka, who represents Framingham.
“Pet owners deserve protection when they unknowingly purchase a sick animal that requires expensive veterinary care,” said Senate President Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester). “Animals depend on their owners, and we must repay that trust by ensuring that animals are treated with respect and compassion. This legislation updates our animal protection laws by setting reasonable standards for breeding, and provides more options to protect animals and consumers.”
“We thank Senator Spilka for her continued efforts to improve standards and protections for animals in the Commonwealth, to make sure those who cannot speak for themselves have a voice,” said Kara Holmquist, Director of Advocacy at MSPCA-Angell, in a media release.
The bill now goes the House of Representatives for consideration.
The bill applies safety and breeding standards to protect pets and pet owners. It prohibits the sale of puppies and kittens younger than eight weeks old, increasing the likelihood that they will grow to be healthy dogs and cats, and outlines a process for a veterinarian to declare an animal suffering from a significant adverse health condition “unfit for sale.”
To protect pet owners who unknowingly purchase a sick pet, the bill outlines remedies available to buyers of animals declared unfit for sale, including the exchange of the animal or a refund and reimbursement for reasonable veterinary fees. The bill also sets forth a procedure for a seller to contest these demands.
The bill regulates commercial breeders and pet shops to further protect the health and safety of animals. It prohibits pet shops from selling dogs or cats originating at or purchased from breeders that are not properly licensed or have committed certain violations of the Animal Welfare Act. Pet shops would also be required to maintain certain compliance records and conspicuously post identifying information for the animal and the breeder.
Finally, the bill empowers the Department of Agriculture to create rules and regulations to ensure commercial breeders maintain humane conditions.