In July, State Senator Jason Lewis joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate to pass two bills that promote and advance animal welfare in the Commonwealth. Senator Lewis has long been a champion for preventing animal cruelty, including the successful passage of protections for farm animals against cruel confinement systems.
On July 11 the Senate passed S.2992, An Act protecting research animals – commonly known as the Beagle Bill – which encourages research facilities that use dogs and cats to offer these animals up for adoption after finishing research, rather than automatically euthanizing them. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nationally more than 60,000 dogs, almost all beagles and nearly 20,000 cats are used each year to advance scientific research and to test cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and other household products. Currently, many research labs choose to automatically euthanize these animals once their experiments are over. This legislation facilitates a relationship between animal research laboratories and registered nonprofit animal rescue organizations and requires that when these animals are no longer needed, the research facilities make every effort to place animals up for public adoption.
On July 11 the Senate also passed S.2994, An Act protecting the health and safety of puppies and kittens in cities and towns, which ensures the safety of puppies and kittens during breeding, sale and boarding. As separating puppies and kittens from their mother and litter prior to completion of their eight-week developmental socialization stage prevents them from learning important behaviors, such as bite inhibition and the development of proper social relations with other members of their species, this bill prohibits the sale of puppies and kittens under eight weeks of age. To promote the continued well-being of puppies and kittens in group settings, this legislation tasks the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources with creating Massachusetts’s first state-wide oversight regulations and licensure requirements for breeders, doggie daycare, and boarding facilities. The bill also ends the sale of animals on roadsides, parking lots, flea markets or in other public spaces.
“As an animal welfare advocate and pet owner, I was very pleased to support the passage in the Senate of these two important bills,” said Senator Lewis. “They will build on progress already made to ensure the humane treatment, health, and safety of animals in Massachusetts.”
An Act protecting research animals has passed both branches of the legislature and been signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker. The House referred An Act protecting the health and safety of puppies and kittens in cities and towns to its Committee on Ways and Means for further consideration.