Help Us Move DAR Regulations Forward!
We need your help in contacting the Governor's office to move the Department of Agriculture's Regulations forward.



WRITE Office of the Governor, Room 280, Massachusetts State House, 24 Beacon Street Boston, MA 02133


CALL (617) 725-4005


- MA Dept of Agriculture hosted an April hearing on proposed animal shelter and rescue organization regulations that are long overdue.

- Initially, rescue groups were run by committed hobby breeders and kennel clubs who carefully vetted a small number of dogs that came into their possession and matched them with appropriate homes.

- Domestic supply of pet dogs is not sufficient to fill the demand so Massachusetts has now become a dumping ground for foreign dogs imported from Turkey, the Middle East, China, and Korea, as numerous shelters and rescues have moved toward a retail rescue business model, selling “rescue dogs” to the public.

- Multiple reports confirm rabies, canine flu, distemper, brucellosis, new tick diseases, parasites and a resurgence of parvovirus related to irresponsibly-imported pets that are being transferred to an unaware public.

- Please move forward in adopting the Department of Agriculture’s proposed regulations of the more than 300 registered, but unregulated, animal rescue and shelter organizations in Massachusetts.

MassFed Rescue/Shelter Statement

The members of the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners support rescue organizations and shelters in their efforts to aid both purebred and mixed breed dogs in need of re-homing. Our concerns are with the importation of large numbers of animals being brought into Massachusetts through the dog transit system. This system has been developed to bring dogs from southern states and outside the country for humane relocation. This concern stems from the potential for introducing disease into our state which might impact the health and safety of our canine community, as well as the human population. That potential has been demonstrated in the past, which prompted the introduction of the emergency orders.

We applaud those agencies committed to finding homes for those pets that are in need. However, we feel strongly that it be done in a manner that is safe and caring for the individual dogs and puppies as well as guarding the general public of Massachusetts and their pets. Therefore, we support the bill that would extend and potentially expand the emergency orders put into place for this purpose by the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture.


ALERT! Statewide BSL Legislation filed on 1/18/13

Senate Docket 1247 - An Act relative to dangerous dogs in cities and towns - Sponsor: Sen. Michael F. Rush (D)

The Mayor of Boston put forth statewide legislation to return to breed-specific legislation (BSL) in his priority package of bills that was released on January 15. The bill is being spearheaded by Councilor Rob Consalvo of Boston, though has been filed in the state legislature by State Senator Michael Rush*.

Please contact both your state senator and state legislator and ask them NOT to co-sponsor SD 1247. The bill, text below, would allow cities and towns to enact ineffective breed-specific legislation. Even though it was initiated by Boston, the bill would allow BSL anywhere in the state.

If you live in Boston, this is especially important, as the Boston delegation (representative and senators who represent any part of Boston) will likely be heavily lobbied by Councilor Consalvo to sign on as co-sponsors.

- You can find out who they are at:
- All legislators can be reached at: 617-722-2000
- The state's website:

SD 1247, An Act relative to Dangerous Dogs in Cities and Towns

SECTION 1. Subsection a of section 157 of chapter 140 of the General Laws, as appearing in section 31 of chapter 193 of the acts of 2012, is hereby amended by inserting in the first paragraph, after the world “dog”, in clause ii, the following:-

Unless municipal attack data indicates a specific breed may be deemed dangerous.

SECTION 2. Subsection c of section 157, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by inserting in the last paragraph, after the word "breed", the following:-

Unless a city or town deems a specific breed to be deemed dangerous through analysis of municipal attack data and by a majority vote of the city council with the approval of the mayor, in the case of a city with a Plan A, Plan B, or Plan F charter; by a majority vote of the city council, in the case of a city with a Plan C, Plan D, or Plan E charter; by a majority vote of the annual town meeting or a special meeting called for the purpose, in the case of a municipality with a town meeting form of government; or by a majority vote of the town council, in the case of a municipality with a town council form of government.

Click here to download the 01/18/13 BSL ALERT.

An Act to Update the Animal Control Laws of Massachusetts

HB4956 (formerly SB2172/SB406/SB2120/SB2151) is still alive! A Lobby Day is planned for Thursday, October 21, 2010, 10:30 am at the State House!

We have until December 31 to get this bill passed and we must succeed!

Click here to download the 10/21/10 HB4957Lobby Day Flyer.

Devocalization Bill FAQ

HB344 (Devocalization) was signed into law by Governor Patrick on 4/22/10 and takes effect 90 days after signing. We asked many sources for assistance with our enforcement questions and Rep. Garrett Bradley was the only one who answered. You can read his rationale for supporting the bill and his answers regarding ENFORCEMENT of the bill by downloading our FAQ.

Click here to download the MassFed HB344 FAQ.

Dog de-bark law signed - Cutting of vocal cords prohibited


BOSTON - A bill banning a controversial surgical procedure to alleviate excessive dog barking has been signed into law by Gov. Deval L. Patrick.

Click here:

Read Articles About Devocalization by Harvard's Bonnie Chandler

Consider This: Debarking bill is a lie
Click here:

FIRST PERSON SINGULAR: Debark bill is not a no-brainer
Click here:

AKC Letter to Gov. Patrick re Devocalization bill

Click here to download the AKC's letter to Governor Patrick regarding SB2359 (HB344) Devocalization bill.

MVMA sends alerts to all members

The MVMA (Mass. Veterinary Medical Association) has sent an urgent email to all members urging them to contact their Senators to oppose HB344 (Devocalization). Please call your veterinarian to make certain he/she received the email and has called his/her Senator!

Devocalization Bill Passes the House 155 to 1

Please contact your State Senator and ask that he/she vote NO when this comes to the floor of the Senate for a vote. You can download the position paper from the "positions" page.

Below is text of the email that went out to all MA Senators from MassFed.

Ladies & Gentlemen of the Mass. State Senate:

HB344 An Act Prohibiting Devocalization of Dogs and Cats passed the House on 3/3/10.

Please read and understand the implications of this bill. This is a poorly written piece of legislation which infringes on the rights of pet owners and imposes unreasonable penalties.

HB344 infringes on the rights of dog owners and their veterinarians to make healthcare decisions.

HB344 will cause the surrender and/or euthanasia of dogs who bark and cause neighbor complaints and are labeled public nuisances.

HB344 will create undue paperwork for veterinarians and town clerks.

HB344 institutes unreasonable punishment (imprisonment for up to 5 years, $2,500 fine and court ordered mental health evaluation, barred from owning or possessing any animals, or living on the same property with someone who owns or possesses animals).

HB344 is opposed by the Mass. Veterinary Medical Association and the American Kennel Club.

Proponents of this bill submit that devocalization is done for "cosmetic" purposes when in fact it is done in extreme cases to stop uncontrolled barking when all other methods fail.

Please vote NO on HB344.

House bill puts the bite on dog de-barking surgery

March 4, 2010

BOSTON - A legislative bill banning a controversial surgery that would prevent dogs from barking was overwhelmingly approved by the House of Representatives yesterday.The bill, HR 344, to ban devocalization of dogs, also called "de-barking," passed by a vote of 155-1, according to state Rep. Jennifer M. Callahan, D-Sutton, a co-sponsor. It still has to be approved by the Senate, but had been languishing since November in a three-member House Judiciary Committee headed by state Rep. Vincent A. Pedone, D-Worcester.

"This (passage of the bill) shows that this issue is important to a lot of people, and puts Massachusetts ahead of the curve for animal cruelty laws," Ms. Callahan said.

Click here to read the entire article:

House votes to ban surgical dog 'debarking'

March 4, 2010
By Associated Press

BOSTON — The Massachusetts House has voted overwhelmingly to ban the surgical "debarking" or silencing of dogs or cats.

By a 150-1 vote, the House on Wednesday approved the bill with prohibits the devocalization of dogs and cats unless a licensed veterinarian certifies that the procedure is medically necessary to relieve an illness, disease or injury.

Animal rights groups pushed for the bill, saying the practice amounts to animal cruelty and poses only risks to the pets.

Some dog owners opt for the procedure as a last ditch effort to try to quiet chronically barking dogs.

Click here to read the entire article:

Devocalization Bill Reported Favorably by Judiciary Committee

On 10/21/09 the Judiciary reported the Devocalization Bill (HB344) favorably. It was then referred to the House Committee on Steering, Policy & Scheduling. It is on the list for the Informal House Session today, 10/28/09. Please be alert and ready to write/email based on today's outcome.

The MVMA position can be downloaded by clicking here: MVMA Devocalization Position 2009

SB2172 Dog Law Rewrite passed by Senate with Amendment

On 10/20/09 SB2172 (previousy SB406, SB2120 & SB2151) Updating the Animal Control Laws of MA was amended and passed by the Senate. We are in the process of analyzing the new text and amendment.

Anger, frustration as packed Judiciary hearing forces rushed remarks

By Kyle Cheney, GateHouse News Service
Posted Jul 14, 2009 @ 09:06 PM

Wellesley - When it comes to legislation involving justice, there is a logjam on Beacon Hill.

Outraged attendees of a Tuesday Judiciary Committee hearing are fuming over the committee's decision to hear 227 bills - many of them controversial - in a single day, forcing committee leaders to cut off testimony from speakers on a range of topics, from gun violence, to sexual assault and a bill to add gender identity to the state's non-discrimination statute. More than a few eyebrows were raised during a marathon hearing Tuesday when the Senate chair of the committee, Cynthia Creem (D-Newton), cut off Secretary of Public Safety Kevin Burke and asked him to hurry his testimony on an administration-backed bill aimed at preventing gun violence. "It's an old-school M.O. that has no place in a modern legislature," said Brian Condron, director of public affairs at the Home for Little Wanderers. "It's crazy and they do this every year ... It really has no place in a modern legislature in an age of transparency."

Click here to read the entire article:

'Speed hearing' on new justice bills - 3-minute commentaries


BOSTON - When it comes to legislation involving justice, there is a logjam on Beacon Hill.

And yesterday more than 500 people got caught up in it, waiting for up to six hours to give their three-minute commentaries on more than 227 bills put up for a public hearing in a single afternoon session before the Judiciary Committee.

Click here to read the entire article:

Municipalities Committee Hearing scheduled for 7/14/09 - 10am Room A-2

A hearing for the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government has been scheduled for Tuesday, 7/14 at 10am in State House Room A-2. There are 15 dog related bills scheduled to be heard. See the positions papers page for info.

Written testimony will be accepted via email if you cannot attend the hearing.

The AKC has also sent out an alert

Devocalization Bill Scheduled for 7/14/09 Hearing

Looking to ban the devocalization of dogs and cats
By David Ertischek
June 16, 2009

Do you ever get tired of hearing your mother talk? Would you pay for your mother to have her larynx cut? Sound inhumane? Well, that's what some people do to their meowing cats and barking dogs.

Even with most state, national and international animal organizations adamantly against the two procedures used to devocalize animals - some veterinarians still perform the procedure at the request of animal owners.

On July 14 there is a scheduled hearing on an act to prohibit the devocalization of cats and dogs in the Joint Committee on Judiciary. That hearing will decide whether the bill will live, dies, or is possibly added to the state's animal protection laws. State Reps. Mike Rush and Jeffrey Sanchez are co-sponsors of the bill, which has more than 40 co-sponsors.

Written testimony will be accepted via email if you cannot attend the hearing.

Click here to read the entire article:

Hearing Scheduled 5/19/09 for SB186 - Pet Groomer Licensing & Regulation

A hearing for the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure has been scheduled for Tuesday, 5/19 at 10am in State House Room B-1.

SB186 is on the list of bills to be heard at that hearing.

This bill would set up a Board to license pet groomers and anyone who bathes or brushes a dog or cat for a fee. Set up tests for licensure, set fees for exams and licenses. Among other things, anyone who is licensed to bathe and brush a dog would have to have completed 80 hours in a bather/brusher program. Those who actually groom or clip animals would be required to complete many more hours of training at "Pet Grooming Schools." Anyone who grooms, bathes or brushes a dog for compensation without being licensed would be subject to a $1,000 fine! This will have a dramatic affect on professional pet groomers as well as professional handlers.

You can download the position paper with full bill text from the "Position Papers" page. Click on the Committee name on that page to download the complete committee contact list.

You can also download a sample letter from the right column of this page and find your State Senator or Representative by inputting your zip code in the "write your legislators" box just below the sample letter link.

"Puppy Mill" Bill filed

This bill states that it is setting standards for "puppy mills". The problem addressed in this legislation is unclear as there is no definition of "puppy mill". The AWA (Animal Welfare Act) does not define either "commercial kennel" or "puppy mill". The AKC (American Kennel Club) also avoids defining "puppy mill" but defines a commercial or high-volume breeder as one who "breeds dogs as a business, for profit" and a hobby breeder as "one who breeds purebred dogs to justifiably improve the breed, not for purposes of primary income." This bill attempts to specify requirements for kennel licenses and requires anyone with four or more dogs to obtain a kennel license, and, thereby be forced to comply with very restrictive requirements.

Click SD1448 "Puppy Mills" in the OPPOSE column to download MassFed's position statement and complete bill text.

Needham High School Freshman Files Bill to Ban 'Debarking' of Cats and Dogs

Click HD 653 "Devocalization" in the OPPOSE column to download MassFed's position statement, complete bill text and cosponsor list.

House Docket #653 makes debarking a dog illegal in Massachusetts. We have not been able to secure the actual text of the bill despite valiant efforts. What we have been able to find is the list of bill co-sponsors.

We urgently need help to persuade legislators to remove themselves as co-sponsors of the bill.

We were shocked to find that Rep Brad Hill was one of them. With some quick effort we were able to reach him today and educate him on the value of this procedure and the misconceptions of it as well. He has removed himself as a co-sponsor. We hope to be able to do the same with other co-sponsors. This is where we need your help. Is your legislator listed below as a co-sponsor? If yes, please let us know and call his/her office. The deadline for signing on or off as a co-sponsor was 2/4 but due to a computer glitch at the State House the deadline has been extended until Wednesday, February 11th.

The best points to make are:
1. Bark softening is a last resort that saves many dogs from being euthanized or turned into shelters by owners who must respond to and resolve nuisance complaints against their barking dogs.
2. Bark softening is a minor procedure. It properly involves a simple biopsy punch in the vocal chords. Vocal chords are not removed. The dog is not "mutilated" and it is up and barking within hours. The dog can bark, whine, vocalize, just more softly.
3. Bark softening is not cruel. The procedure is done under anesthesia. While spay and neuter are major surgeries, debark is a minor surgery. Dogs recover quickly.

Main sponsor: House Majority whip Lida Harkins (Dover and Sherborn)

Co-sponsors - download bill text to see updated sponsorship list.

Enter your zip code and click "go" to find your legislators!


Updated List of bills and their status: MassFed Bills To Watch

See "Position Papers" page for complete text and positions.

Attending Committee Hearings

Directions to the State House

Tips for Contacting Your Legislators

MassFed Sample Letter