UPDATE: Hearing on Tuesday, May 2 at 1:00 PM
Massachusetts S490 is an animal rights written and driven bill meant to eliminate the exhibition of animals outside of permanent facilities (such as zoos). While the reported purpose is to end animals in circuses and similar events, the language of the bill could be interpreted to affect educational outreach and similar programs. This is a simple case of another overreaching and unnecessary law. Although the bill language may seem to be focused on certain types of "performances," ambiguity in the verbiage is intentional and animal rights groups know it.
Animal welfare laws already address animal care, and the many types of bans being pushed by animal rights groups are clearly nothing more than attempts to remove all animals from our lives. Whether or not legislators say this bill would affect small herpetological educational outreach programs, the bill should be stopped as an enforcement officer may interpret the language differently.
The bill was assigned to the joint (Senate and House) committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture and now has a hearing on May 2.
Per the bill language: “performance” shall mean any exhibition, public showing, presentation, display, exposition, fair, agricultural fair, act, circus, ride, trade show, petting zoo, carnival, parade, race, performance, or similar undertaking in which animals are required to perform tricks, fight, give rides, or participate as accompaniments for the entertainment, amusement, or benefit of an audience.
"Benefit" could be anything, including education.
The only exemptions for "educational programs" are those conducted by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the animal rights controlled Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS).
Nearly all animal species would be banned. The bill prohibits all “wild animals” and “exotic animals," which by definition are all animals that are not domesticated pets or farm animals.
This bill and similar proposals have popped up at local and state levels in recent years and are from the animal rights playbook (hence the GFAS exemption).
Massachusetts residents should complete the quick alert form at www.usark.org/campaign/action-alert-2-massachusetts-s490 in addition to the steps below.
Sample letter/statement (Remember to be professional and civil at all times!)
NOTE: You may get auto-responses or "email box is full" messages.
In addition to sending emails and attending the hearing, call the members of the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee. Phone numbers can be found by clicking the members' names at www.malegislature.gov/Committees/Detail/J21/190/BillHistory.Messages can be as simple as, "I oppose S490 as a
Messages can be as simple as, "I oppose S490 as a Massachusetts resident." Or, you can add Talking Points from below, or use sentences from the sample letter.
Copy/paste email list:
James.Timilty@masenate.gov, Mike.Rush@masenate.gov, RoseLee.Vincent@mahouse.gov, firstname.lastname@example.org, James.Eldridge@masenate.gov, Thomas.McGee@masenate.gov, Ryan.Fattman@masenate.gov, Gailanne.Cariddi@mahouse.gov, Thomas.Petrolati@mahouse.gov, Robert.Koczera@mahouse.gov, Mary.Keefe@mahouse.gov, email@example.com, Christine.Barber@mahouse.gov, Dylan.Fernandes@mahouse.gov, Jack.Lewis@mahouse.gov, Donald.Berthiaume@mahouse.gov, firstname.lastname@example.org
Copy/paste one of these subject lines, or write your own:
- S490 Ought Not Pass
- NO to S490
- Opposition to S490
- S490 is overreaching and unjust
- Scrap S490: Ought Not Pass
Copy/paste this sample letter. It is important to personalize/edit at least some of the letter.
Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee Member,
I oppose S490 as a responsible animal owner and animal welfare advocate! It's quite simply unnecessary as animal welfare laws already protect animals and those laws should be enforced. Making more laws which only punish responsible citizens is beyond unjust. Bans often create more problems, rather than address the non-existent issues they propose to fix.
This bill would make the hundreds of beneficial, educational outreach programs performed each year by responsible animal keepers illegal. Many of these events occur at schools and libraries so children can actually see these animals in person. Books and videos are great, but seeing the animals leads to much greater appreciation and fuels the desire to learn. Where will the conservationists and biologists of tomorrow come from? Many of these professionals only took those paths because of events such as these, which will now be banned.
I ask you to vote "ought NOT to pass" to S490! It does not benefit the animals. It does not benefit responsible animal educators. It does not benefit Massachusetts. Thank you for your time and consideration on this matter.
Use these to enhance emails, phone calls, and oral/written comments.
- This very poorly written bill includes language which will make illegal hundreds of educational programs enjoyed by thousands of children and adults annually.
- Animal welfare laws already exist and should be enforced. This is an unnecessary bill written to advance a radical agenda and not to protect animals.
- The exemption list is absurd and unjust as these are not the people who are giving hundreds of educational outreach events in Massachusetts each year.
- Per the language of the bill, education is apparently a bad thing and people should not learn about animals. Education is a "benefit" and this bill makes that illegal.
- Children will no longer have the encounters from educational programs which lead to increased interest in learning and reading, positive lifelong memories, and even career paths.
- The programs which will be banned are the same ones which produce the biologists, ecologists, veterinarians, conservationists, scientists, and zookeepers of tomorrow.
- This bill does not protect animals, nor does it improve upon current animal welfare laws.
- This is a simple case of another overreaching and unnecessary law that will only affect responsible citizens.