Updates about legal issues facing animals in the state

The Animal Legal Defense Fund works at the federal, state and local levels to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals.

Animal Protection Laws Ranking

Each year, the Animal Legal Defense Fund publishes its U.S. State Animal Protection Laws Rankings Report. Each state is ranked based on 20 different categories of animal protection.

Overall Rank: #8 (Top Tier)

  • +Felony provisions for cruelty, neglect, fighting, abandonment, and sexual assault
  • +Mandatory post-conviction forfeiture
  • +Protection orders may include animals
  • -Standards for minimum acceptable care for animals (e.g. necessary food, water, shelter) are not well-defined
  • -No statutorily authorized sentencing to mental health evaluation or treatment

Legislative Session

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Recent Victories

cat and dog

Funding Critical Animal Health Services In Massachusetts FY2021 State Budget

State Budget Allocates Funds for Spay, Neuter, and Vaccination Services
Governor signs state budget allocating $50k to provide critical animal health services to animals in need.

Funding Critical Health Services for Animals In Need (Massachusetts)

State Budget Allocates Funds for Spay, Neuter, and Vaccination Services
Governor signs state budget allocating funds to provide critical animal health services—including spay and neuter surgeries and vaccinations—to animals in need.

Ending Killing Contests in Massachusetts

In 2019, Massachusetts adopted regulations banning killing contests for certain animals, including coyotes, foxes, and bobcats.

Active Cases

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Active Legislation


Protecting Animals from Rat Poisons (Massachusetts)

An Act Relative to Pesticides (S.487/H.825)
Would reduce the use of rat poisons in Massachusetts to protect wild animals as well as companion animals  
Banning the Sale of Fur (Massachusetts)

Banning the Sale of Fur (Massachusetts)

An Act Prohibiting the Sale of Fur Products (H.849/S.590)
Bans the sale of new fur products, including clothing, fashion accessories, and home décor, in the Commonwealth.

Protecting Animals Used in Circuses (Massachusetts)

An Act Relative to the Use of Elephants, Big Cats, Primates, and Bears in Traveling Exhibits and Shows (S.2197/S.2189/H.3245)
Prohibits the use of certain wild animals in circuses and traveling shows in Massachusetts.
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Animal Possession Ban (Massachusetts)

An Act to Protect Animals From Convicted Animal Abusers (H.1703/S.1076)
Bars people convicted of animal cruelty from possessing, adopting, or fostering animals for at least five years after their release from custody