MSPCA director of advocacy
Bill No. 305 protects animal welfare and public health.
This legislation is known as “Ollie’s Law” after Ollie, a labradoodle puppy that died in 2020 following injuries received in a dog fight at a day-care facility. His owner, Amy Baxter, has become a passionate voice about the legislation after her horrific experience.
The MSPCA supports this bill over others — including H. 314 — since it is the most comprehensive. Currently, there are no statewide standards or regulations for commercial kennels, pet day-care facilities, or breeders. Massachusetts pet stores and animal rescue shelters already are regulated.
At the MSPCA, we regularly take calls from owners who have done their due diligence in researching a boarding facility, but now have a dog injured or that has died while boarding. The animal may have been mauled by another dog, or died from being overheated or in a fire. The mourning owners are shocked to find out there are no regulations.
This bill would require the Mass. Department of Agricultural Resources to establish reasonable rules and regulations for boarding kennels and day-care facilities, as well as for higher-volume breeding kennels.
There are 351 communities in the state, each with its own rules. A kennel license is not adequate — it is a bare minimum requirement that simply states the kennel must be maintained in a sanitary and humane manner. This bill would cover very minimal housing and care requirements such as having an emergency plan, staff training, staffing ratio, indoor and outdoor physical facility requirements, hydration, and insurance.
Local animal control officers would benefit from having statewide regulations when conducting inspections and the law would require facilities to report injuries and deaths, data that would become available to the public.
Small breeders wouldn’t be impacted. The law only applies to breeders with five intact female dogs for the purposes of breeding.
The implementation of the proposed regulations should not add a significant cost to the businesses that already are doing things the right way.
Over the last 10 years, similar bills have failed to pass in Massachusetts. Dogs are being injured and killed in kennels more frequently. Jeremy Cohen, of Boston Dog Lawyers, estimated that a dog is mauled or killed every 10 days at a boarding kennel in Massachusetts.
We need Massachusetts to do better.
American Kennel Club vice president, government relations
Since our founding in 1884, the love of dogs has been at the heart of everything the American Kennel Club does. That love is expressed in the goals set by our mission statement, which include advancing canine health and well-being, working to protect the rights of all dog owners, and promoting responsible dog ownership.
Along with our 114 affiliated dog clubs in Massachusetts, which represent thousands of dog owners throughout the Commonwealth, AKC joins in remembering Ollie’s tragic story, and shares in the goals of ensuring that dogs left in the care of others receive proper care.
However, even though it purports to focus on dog day cares, “Ollie’s Law” would have an impact far beyond. It would require owners of dogs with small personal kennels to abide by one-size-fits-all requirements designed for large-scale commercial kennels.
This would be an unreasonable burden for dog owners who participate in sporting or breed-focused activities, including dog shows and small breeding programs, and would undermine the ability of responsible dog owners to provide the specialized kind of care and facilities for their dogs that sets them apart from large commercial enterprises in the first place.
Overreach like that should call into question the true intention behind the latest iterations of “Ollie’s Law.” And we would be remiss if we failed to mention the functional issues with “Ollie’s Law” that are far too numerous to mention in the space allotted.
We believe there is a better way, which is why we support House Bill 314 instead. H. 314 is a narrowly tailored yet comprehensive measure that seeks to provide consumer protections at dog day-care facilities. It would define “dog day care business” and require such a place to be licensed.
The Mass. Department of Agricultural Resources would develop new standards for dog day cares, including inspection requirements, operational safety standards, sanitation requirements, risk management procedures, minimum commercial general liability insurance requirements; fire and safety procedures; approved education, testing, accreditation, or certification for animal care providers at dog day cares; and animal health and behavior record-keeping, including an obligation to report serious injuries to animals or people. Most importantly, H. 314 would impose consequences for licensees who fail to comply.
Reasonable, narrowly tailored, and comprehensive, H. 314 is the better way to ensure that dog day cares in Massachusetts provide proper care.
As told to Globe correspondent Linda Greenstein. To suggest a topic, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.