Kara Holmquist is the Director of Advocacy at and a Parkway resident.
This Thursday, April 26, my colleagues and I will join over 160 “citizen lobbyists” at the State House on Beacon Hill to speak one-on-one with lawmakers about several high-profile animal protection bills currently winding their way through the legislative process. And my fervent hope is that you will join your voice with ours by attending this important event.
Together we can literally change the world for animals living in the Commonwealth. What exactly are we advocating for, you might ask? Put simply, never before have there been so many comprehensive animal welfare measures under consideration in one legislative session. To ensure passage of these bills we need to show our lawmakers that Massachusetts citizens want significant protection for animals in our state. Here’s an overview of the pending bills:
- Animal Control bill (S.2192) – a comprehensive update to the state’s animal control law that will create a statewide spay/neuter program to reduce the number of homeless animals; ensure all animals adopted from animal shelters are spayed or neutered before going to new homes; require training for animal control officers; improve the dangerous dog law (and prevent ineffective breed-specific ordinances); and protect domestic violence victims and pets by mandating inclusion of pets in domestic violence protection orders.
- Veterinary Care bill (H. 2326) – a bill that would clarify the existing parameters of the Massachusetts’ animal cruelty laws to obligate animal owners to address their animals’ unnecessary suffering. Filed in response to many MSPCA law enforcement cases, this bill has been ordered to a third reading in the House.
- Sale of Puppies bill (H. 2886) – This bill would prohibit the sale of puppies younger than 8 weeks of age, thereby reducing the behavior problems that can accompany early separation from the mother. The bill has been ordered to a second reading in the House.
- Wildlife – Animal advocates are still protecting animals against bills that would loosen trapping restrictions (H. 3315), allow for hunting on Sundays (H. 3946) and allow moose hunting (H. 1996). These have all received approval from the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture.
- Farm Animal confinement (H. 458/S. 786) – This bill would prohibit the confinement of certain farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up and fully extend their limbs. This bill is pending in the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.
- Antifreeze bill (S.88) – This bill would build on the law that passed last session that required the addition of a bittering agent to retail containers of engine coolant or antifreeze. This bill would extend the law to wholesale containers and is in Senate Ethics and Rules.
We are very confident that if we can engage a critical mass of citizen lobbyists to join us for Lobby Day our lawmakers will hear us loud and clear. Best of all you don’t need any previous lobbying experience. We have created a simple Web-based sign-up form that all interested individuals must complete to participate. We’ll provide a thorough briefing on the bills in advance so you feel prepared to engage the legislators. The event will take place at the Grand Staircase on the 2nd floor of the State House from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Registration begins at 10 a.m. followed by legislators speaking about specific bills and awards to certain legislators at 10:45 a.m. Participants will then meet with their own legislators from 11:30 until 3:30 p.m.
Additionally, we’ll have a meet-and-greet session with a dog available for adoption, dog cookies for participants donated from Audrey’s - and we’ll be accepting donations of extra towels, blankets and pet food to deliver to local animal shelters.
I hope you join us for this opportunity to engage lawmakers in a respectful and highly effective format. Animals depend on all of us to use our voices to advocate on their behalf. Please, join our efforts and make a difference for animals in our state.