At the end of 2012, the Massachusetts legislature passed a comprehensive animal control act. This new law contained a clause in it that subverted all breed discriminatory laws in Massachusetts, making breed discrimination illegal on the state level.
Boston officials were extremely unhappy with this clause and as a result immediately filed S969 which would create an exemption in the state law prohibiting breed discriminatory laws. The language of the bill states that a municipality would be able to institute breed discriminatory laws if
“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.”
The bill sets forth no clear rules for what constitutes proof in regards to data collection methods or data analysis. The bills backers seem to want people to take their word on what they deem to be a “dangerous breed.”
Despite claims from the bills backers that they have data that would allow Boston an exemption under the proposed changes, no such data has ever been provided to any constituents that have made the request to see this data.
Pit Bulletin Legal News drafted a Freedom of Information Act Request, which can be viewed here, in an attempt to access the information that officials were relying on to make the determination that Boston should be allowed to re-institute their breed discriminatory ordinance.
This bill has been set for a hearing date. The Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government is set to hear this bill on June 4th.
Massachusetts residents: Reach out to the members of the committee and your legislators to offer opposition to S969. All members of the committee are listed below. You can find you specific representatives here.
Senator Sal DiDomenico: Phone: 617-722-1650 Email: Sal.DiDomenico@masenate.gov
Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz: Phone: 617-722-1673 Email: Sonia.Chang-Diaz@masenate.gov
Senator William Brownsberger: Phone: 617-722-1280 Email: William.Brownsberger@masenate.gov
Senator James Timilty: Phone: 617 722-1222 Email: James.Timilty@masenate.gov
Senator Barry Finegold: Phone: 617-722-1612 Email: Barry.Finegold@MASenate.gov
Senator Richard Ross: Phone: 617-722-1555 Email: Richard.Ross@masenate.gov
Rep. Sarah Peake: Phone: 617-722-2090 Email: Sarah.Peake@mahouse.gov
Rep. Gailanne Cariddi: Phone: 617-722-2450 Email: Gailanne.Cariddi@mahouse.gov
Rep. Thomas Stanley: Phone: 617-722-2230 Email: Thomas.Stanley@mahouse.gov
Rep. Sean Garballey: Phone: 617-722-2090 Email: Sean.Garballey@mahouse.gov
Rep. Rhonda Nymann: Phone: 617-722-2210 Email: Rhonda.Nyman@MAhouse.gov
Rep. Wayne Matewsky: Phone: 617-722-2090 Email: Wayne.Matewsky@mahouse.gov
Rep. Kevin Kuros: Phone: 617-722-2460 Email: Kevin.Kuros@mahouse.gov
Rep. Cleon Turner: Phone: 617-722-2090 Email: Cleon.Turner@mahouse.gov
Rep. Timothy Madden: Phone: 617-722-2810 Email: Timothy.Madden@mahouse.gov
Rep. David Rogers: Phone: 617-722-2400 Email: Dave.Rogers@mahouse.gov
Rep. Peter Durant: Phone: 617-722-2060 Email: Peter.Durant@mahouse.gov