The Baker-Polito Admin-istration highlighted significant changes in the state regulations as part of the extensive regulatory review process, at the Animal Rescue League located in the South End, which resulted in improving the lives of shelter animals and increasing space and flexibility for animal shelters around the state.
The change in regulations made it consistent with national recommendations that have reduced quarantine periods for unvaccinated dogs and cats possibly exposed to rabies from six months to four months.
This allows The Animal Rescue League and other animal shelters across the state to save resources and find homes for more animals in need.
“After about three to four months confined to an office space we find that animals become extremely stressed and extremely void,” said Mary Nee, the president of the Animal Rescue League of Boston.
“When we move them out of these offices they get adopted almost immediately. It’s a benefit to them, their families and they homes they enter,” said Nee.
These regulatory changes come as a result of Governor Baker’s Executive Order 562 that was signed in March 2015. This began the first extensive top-to-bottom review of all state regulations enforced by the Executive Department since 1996.
The process included 131 listening sessions and 1,000 stakeholder comments on roughly 1,7000 Executive Branch regulations, the vast majority that have been put in place since 1970.
“Regulatory review is like cleaning your basement,” said Gov. Charlie Baker. “I think you should do it every couple of years whether you think you need to do it or not because things change, times change and you can always get better.”
During this procedure the Executive Branch agencies collaborated across Secretariats and with outside stakeholders to review each regulation.
The goal was to ease regulatory burden through simplification or consolidation, rescind outdated and unnecessary regulations, aligning with federal requirements when appropriate and establishing a regulatory code that speaks using one voice.
Agencies were required to identify when each regulation would be reviewed again and establish a process to avoid the duplication of regulations in the future.
“We looked at every single regulation,” said Administration and Finance Secretary Kristen Lepore. “Not one regulation went without being looked at.”
Lepore continued in saying that this review of onerous regulatory environment will dramatically improve the business climate of Massachusetts as well as improve the quality of life for non-profits, such as the Animal Rescue League. Just like many other animal shelters in the state, the Animal Rescue League of Boston has limited quarantine space, and physical capacity limits that require difficult decisions to be made about euthanizing animals suspected to have rabies.
Earlier this year, the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians issued new recommendations in the 2016 Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention that advised reducing quarantine periods to four months down from six.
This is due to evidence that animals in isolation for an extended period of six months can become stressed and depressed, even with regular human socialization.
By updating an old regulation that went into affect in late July to comply with new best practices, dogs and cats that enter the shelters in the Commonwealth with an unknown wound are now held for 45 days instead of the previous six months.
“While rabies is a serious public health concern, science proves that excessive quarantine for animals is not necessary and is potentially harmful to otherwise healthy animals,” said Dr. Edward Schettino, the vice president of Animal Welfare and Veterinary Services. He continued, “The dogs and cats will thank you for a very long time.”