Legislation

There are several organizations that track and take positions on animal protection legislation. Please see the list below. The 2017-18 session has just gotten underway. All bills can be found at www.malegislature.gov.

If you are interested in the general issues that MVFA asks candidates for state legislature, see our survey below. Note that specific questions may change from election to election and in local races.

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Massachusetts Voters for Animals works to elect candidates to public office in our state who care about the humane treatment of animals and will support enacting laws and policies for animal protection. Please fill out the following survey about animal issues that come before the state legislature. There are 8 questions. We will use the replies as part of the basis for our endorsements. If you have any questions, please contact us at info@massvotersforanimals.org.

Legislators can affect animal welfare by:

1) supporting legislation to protect animals and opposing bills that cause or increase animal suffering 2) opposing state programs that cause or fund the exploitation of animals 3) supporting policies and funding levels for state programs to protect animals.

Note: Completed questionnaires may be posted on our website, www.massvotersforanimals.org (Note, the options for answers are yes, no, more information needed and then a space is left for the candidate to explain or expand on his or her position)

  1. In 1996, 64% of the voters in the Commonwealth supported Question 1, the “Wildlife Protection Act,” a ballot question that restricted cruel traps, banned using dogs for bear and bobcat hunting, and removed the requirement that sportsmen hold the majority of seats on the state’s Fisheries and Wildlife Board. (To date, no governor has appointed a person other than a hunter or trapper to this Board.) Would you uphold and reaffirm the Wildlife Protection Act — the trapping restrictions (it includes exceptions for public health and safety) and the prohibition on hunting bears and bobcat with packs of dogs?
  2. In 2012, Massachusetts passed legislation that prohibits banning or regulating dogs based solely on their breed. Most experts contend that laws that focus on specific breeds are not effective, are unfair, create enforcement problems, and that laws focusing on dangerous dogs (regardless of breed) are most effective. Do you support the new law as is and therefore keeping the prohibition on breed-specific legislation?
  3. Hunting is allowed six days of the week, leaving only one day, Sunday, for the 99% of Massachusetts citizens who do not hunt to safely walk in the fields and woods. Every year, legislation is introduced to allow Sunday hunting, or to grant such decision-making power to the director of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, an agency that traditionally makes decisions in the interest of trappers and hunters. Are you in favor of legislation allowing hunting on Sundays?
  4. Wild animals in circuses: The complex social, psychological, and behavioral needs of wild animals cannot be met when they are kept as part of a traveling entertainment show. There are severe problems involving confinement, constant transport, nutrition, restraint, and harsh training methods. Wild animals placed in situations unnatural to them may act unpredictably, creating potentially dangerous situations for circus employees, spectators, the general public, and the animals themselves. Incidences of elephant rampages and tiger attacks have ended tragically. Quincy, Revere, Provincetown, Braintree, Weymouth, Somerville, Plymouth, and Cambridge have local ordinances that ban circuses that use wild animals from performing in their town. Would you support legislation that would prohibit certain — or all — wild animals from performing in traveling shows in Massachusetts?
  5. The treatment of animals raised for food is the least regulated area of animal use industries. Farm animals are explicitly excluded from the protections of the federal Animal Welfare Act, and many practices that most would deem cruel are not covered by animal cruelty statutes. Many farm animals, including many egg-laying hens in Massachusetts, are raised in intensive confinement systems, and are kept in cages that are so small that they can never fully spread both wings. There is currently a ballot measure that will appear on the ballot this November (www.citizensforfarmanimals.com) that requires that animals raised for food (pigs, veal calves and egg-laying hens) in Massachusetts be kept in a manner that allows them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs, and also requires some products from other states that are sold in Massachusetts to meet these same standards. Would you support this measure?

Open-ended questions:

  1. Have you taken any actions in either your public or private life that impacted the welfare of animals? (Co-sponsorship or votes in the legislature, or other actions as a public official or private citizen?)
  2. Would you be in favor of legislation to protect animals from certain forms of cruelty even if opponents said there is commercial and economic benefit from the animal exploitation? For example, opponents to a ban on wild animals in circuses say that if these traveling circuses did not perform in their town, jobs or income would be lost.
  3. Do you consider yourself as having animal protection as a core value? That is, do you see cruelty to/mistreatment of animals as an ethical issue that must be addressed as part of society’s efforts toward moral progress?