I am hijacking Mango's blog to make an extremely important announcement to all MA dog owners. Please read this in its entirety. At the end is my own brief soapbox on this issue.
[Thursday, September 11, 2008] In a stunning procedural move, Massachusetts House Bill 1948, which was a reasonable and non-discriminatory dangerous dog bill supported by both the AKC and the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs, has been replaced by House Bill 5092, a conglomeration of many anti-dog, anti-responsible breeder, and anti-responsible owner proposals.
The American Kennel Club is not only deeply concerned with the many unacceptable provisions of the bill, but is also disturbed by the procedural maneuver used to deny the concerned dog-owning citizens of Massachusetts an opportunity to state their objections to the egregious bill in a committee hearing format.
Representative Brad Hill sponsored HB 1948, the pragmatic dangerous dog bill, this legislative session. That bill was assigned to the Joint Municipalities Committee, which subsequently sent to it to "study". That action usually indicates that the bill will not be considered for the remainder of the session. However, on July 28th, part of the bill was recommitted to the Joint Municipalities Committee, which then produced HB 5092.
Among the many problematic provisions to HB 5092, the most egregious include:
Imposing mandatory spay/neuter of all dogs over 12 months of age; or in the alternative, owners will have to qualify for and annually purchase an intact animal permit at a cost of up to $500 per dog.
Limiting the number of reproductive events per female dog to one litter per year, with few exceptions.
Requiring the reporting of all sales of puppies to local jurisdictions.
Eliminating the practice of humane tethering, without allowances for hunting or sled dogs.
Allowing towns and cities to impose breed-specific ordinances.
Instituting state-mandated vaccination schedules, instead of allowing vaccination schedules to be provided by, and in consultation with, a veterinarian.
Establishing unreasonable nuisance laws that can result in the forced sterilization, banishment, or euthanizing of dogs.
For a copy of HB 5092, click here.
Legislative staff in Massachusetts has confirmed with the Massachusetts Federation that the House Steering, Policy, and Scheduling Committee currently has cognizance of the bill. This committee does not consider the policy of pending legislation. Instead, it acts as a manager of legislation, determining which bills will be sent to the full House for its consideration, and the timing thereof.
Effectively, this means that at any time the House Steering, Policy, and Scheduling Committee will send HB 5092 to the full House for its consideration and vote, effectively denying Massachusetts citizens the opportunity to participate in the legislative process by stating their objections to the bill in a policy committee hearing!
Mango Momma soapbox...
This bill is disturbing on many levels.
1) The method of introduction is designed to bypass our normal legislative process. Whatever happened to our voice in government?
2) What problem are they trying to solve? There are already laws against animal abuse and keeping dangerous animals. Enforcing those laws targets specific violations. The proposed regulations don't touch the people who already keep dogs without license or train them up for attack or dog fighting. Do you really think that all the backyard breeders are going to feel compelled to fix their dogs? The more likely result is that fewer people will register their animals.
3) Dangerous dog acts by breed DO NOT WORK! Allowing towns to arbitrarily ban breeds is ridiculous. Dogs aren't born dangerous, they are made that way. Any breed can attack. Unilaterally penalizing responsible dog owners will not eliminate dog attacks from animals kept by ignorant, irresponsible people. Plus, with the new genetic testing, you might find out that your lovable mutt has 10% pit bull blood and winds up being taken from you regardless of how mild mannered he / she is.
4) A possibly controversial statement, but, as much as my dogs are part of the family, they are also my property. Provided that I am not causing harm to my animals or others, it is none of the business of the Commonwealth of MA how I choose to keep them OR when I choose to have a litter and to whom I sell the puppies to. Now, some of you might be thinking, I already abide by those rules so how can they hurt me? That's the same line of reasoning as allowing the government to have access to your phone calls, library records, video rentals, whatever because "I have nothing to hide." Wrong. Keep the government out of my private affairs, thank you.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: It is imperative that Massachusetts residents contact the members of the Steering, Policy, and Scheduling Committee, and implore them to not send HB 5092 to the floor for a vote. Instead, encourage them to return the bill to study, or in the alternative back to the Joint Municipalities Committee for consideration and public comment on the policies contained in HB 5092.Members of Massachusetts House Steering, Policy, and Scheduling
CommitteeRepresentative Paul J. DonatoRM. 185State HouseBoston, MA 02133PHONE: 617-722-2960FAX: 617-722-2713mailto:617-722-2713Rep.PaulDonato@hou.state.ma.us
Representative Joyce A. SpiliotisRM. 236State HouseBoston, MA 02133PHONE: 617-722-2430mailto:617-722-2430Rep.JoyceSpiliotis@hou.state.ma.us
Representative Paul C. CaseyRM. 238State HouseBoston, MA 02133PHONE: 617-722-2380mailto:617-722-2380Rep.PaulCasey@hou.state.ma.us
Representative James B. EldridgeRM. 33State HouseBoston, MA 02133PHONE: 617-722-2060mailto:617-722-2060Rep.JamesEldridge@hou.state.ma.us
Representative Alice Hanlon PeischRM. 167State HouseBoston, MA 02133PHONE: 617-722-2230mailto:617-722-2230Rep.AlicePeisch@hou.state.ma.us
Representative Denis E. GuyerRM. 443State HouseBoston, MA 02133PHONE: 617-722-2460mailto:617-722-2460Rep.DenisGuyer@hou.state.ma.us
Representative Tom Sannicandro RM. 473FState HouseBoston, MA 02133PHONE: 617-722-2210FAX: 508-626-0692mailto:508-626-0692Rep.TomSannicandro@hou.state.ma.us
Representative James T. WelchRM. 43State HouseBoston, MA 02133PHONE: 617-722-2030mailto:617-722-2030Rep.JamesWelch@hou.state.ma.us
Representative Lori A. EhrlichRM. 540State HouseBoston, MA 02133PHONE: 617-722-2090mailto:617-722-2090Rep.LoriEhrlich@hou.state.ma.us
Representative Bradford HillRM. 542State HouseBoston, MA 02133PHONE: 617-722-2489mailto:617-722-2489Rep.BradHill@hou.state.ma.us
Representative Elizabeth A. Poirier RM. 542State HouseBoston, MA 02133PHONE: 617-722-2976FAX: 617-626-0108mailto:617-626-0108Rep.ElizabethPoirier@hou.state.ma.us
Massachusetts residents are also encouraged to contact their own state representative and express their vehement opposition to egregious provisions of HB 5092, and urge them to do the same. For more information, contact AKC's Government Relations Department at (919) 816-3720, or e-mail email@example.com.
Final, personal, soapbox note.
You may already abide by all of the rules outlined in the legislation and be thinking, what's the harm? I urge you to consider the precedent that both the bill and the method of introduction are setting. While the rules might not affect you and your doggie family today, the next rule added could very well result in your dog being taken away from you or your responsible breeding program being shut down.
Never underestimate the ability of the Commonwealth to react to a single, stuff happens, event with hysterical legislation. I can easily envision one dog dying from heat stroke after an ignorant owner leaves its crate in the sun at a dog show. Response? Crating outside is made illegal (you folks in Massachusetts should know what I'm talking about).