May 2, 2012
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Shelter and rescue regulation update   

Many of you have inquired about recent emails going around relating to both legislative and administrative efforts to the regulate aspects of shelters and rescues in Massachusetts.

We sent out an update last month on legislative efforts. Please read more here

There is much misinformation out there and in order for you to discuss and advocate effectively, we want to help clear up some of this.

First, there are two bills that were filed last year that would give the Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) authority to regulate shelters and rescues. These were not filed by MDAR and as far as we can tell, are primarily supported by a group called MassFed (see more here). While much attention has focused on H. 1445, H. 561 has actually moved further in the process. However, they have not advanced very far in previous years and right now, we do not have any information that would lead us to believe they are on the verge of moving before the end of this legislative session. There is information at the link above on how to contact your representatives.

Second, there have been reports of a hearing on May 11. There WAS a hearing last year on May 11 on these bills that MAC informed members about at the time. There is no hearing on May 11 of this year.

Third, there is a copy of draft regulations that has become available that are based on existing statutes (in Chapter 129) not the above bills. These draft regulations are not related to the bills mentioned above. MAC is in the process of evaluating this draft. If you have comments or concerns that you would like MAC to consider as we prepare comments, please email Keep in mind, these are a DRAFT and if they move forward, there will be a public hearing on them and opportunity for input with agency officials.

Fourth, Mike Cahill at MDAR has offered to speak with people directly to clear up some of the misinformation being posted.

Because of MDAR's role, they unfortunately see the individuals and groups that are not doing responsible rescue and sheltering and the situations where animals become unnecessarily sick. When the topic of regulations has been discussed in MAC over the years (at meetings or when we did a survey), most members have stated they support some regulation, but, that any regulation needs to be fair and reasonable while protecting the health and welfare of animals.

We will be looking to create comments that seek to offer constructive input about how the draft regulations can be improved and changed to clarify existing good practices to both protect animals and the public AND in a way that will allow responsible and safe efforts to re-home animals to continue in Massachusetts.

Please email if you would like to provide us with your input as we evaluate this further.