Legislation is being proposed in Massachusetts to regulate dog boarding schools and pet day care businesses.
Amy Baxter turns tragedy into action.
Last fall, her seven-month-old Labradoodle “Ollie” died after being mutilated by five dogs at a pet day care center in East Longmeadow. Trying to piece together what exactly happened, Baxter said she discovered there was no state control over the pet boarding industry.
“It seemed ridiculous to me,” Baxter said.
On Wednesday – the day Ollie would have turned 1 – Baxter stood with a group of animal welfare advocates and pet owners outside the Dakin Humane Society in Springfield to announce legislation requiring permission to exercised by the State for the care and boarding of animals. companies.
“I am incredibly proud to announce that HD.3356 known as ‘Ollie’s Law’ has been introduced to the Massachusetts House of Representatives,” Baxter said, choking back tears.
The crowd of about two dozen people applauded.
The bill would empower the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources to create regulations, including staff-to-dog ratios, group sizes, minimum standards of care and insurance requirements. Employees would be required to have training in dog body language and animal behavior.
Baxter said the legislation is “reasonable and fair”.
“Daycare owners are paid like pet professionals and they should provide professional service,” Baxter said. “It is not enough to love animals.”
To help draft the initial regulations, there would be an advisory committee that would include a representative from the industry.
Jeni Mather, president of JM Pet Resort in Brockton, said she believes the basic standards envisioned in the legislation would not be a burden on pet boarding businesses of any size.
“I fully support Ollie’s Law,” Mather said. “Regulation in our industry has to happen.”
The sponsor of the legislation, Democratic State Representative Brian Ashe, said in drafting the bill he had worked with a group of a dozen people, including Baxter, animal welfare advocates and the owners of two pet care businesses.
“I’m confident. I think it’s going to get legs and move forward,” Ashe said. “Unfortunately, sometimes it’s because of a tragedy that we find out that there are loopholes or holes in certain laws and this is one of those cases.”
Because the industry is not state licensed, it’s unclear how many pet care companies could be affected by the legislation.
It is also not known how many dogs have been injured at these establishments over the years. An MSPCA official cited two incidents: one where a dog died of mistreatment which was seen on security video and another where a fire claimed the lives of several animals after the kennel was left behind. unattended.
Earlier this year, the East Longmeadow Planning Council revoked the license to operate the dog day care center where Ollie was attacked.