For Immediate Release - February 07, 2013

DAR Commissioner Watson Encourages Massachusetts Residents to Help Prevent Animal Homelessness

BOSTON – Thursday, February 7, 2013 – With tax season underway, Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) Commissioner Greg Watson is asking taxpayers to consider giving to the Homeless Animal Prevention and Care Fund. The fund is part of a new law that took effect on October 31, 2012 as a proactive measure to provide assistance for the well-being of Massachusetts’ most vulnerable animals.

To contribute to the fund, Massachusetts residents can now check off a donation on Line 32f of their 2012 tax return.

Contributions to this fund will:

  • help reduce the number of homeless cats and dogs by spaying/ neutering animals in shelters and animal control facilities, and provide vaccinations;
  • assist families who would not otherwise be able to afford these services for their pets; and
  • provide training to municipal animal control officers so that they can safely and effectively protect animals and people in their communities.

“With 265 registered animal shelters in Massachusetts, this new fund has great potential to help many of our less fortunate animals in need,” said Commissioner Watson.

The new law also calls for the creation of a five-member advisory committee appointed by Governor Patrick that assists DAR in establishing procedures for the disbursement of funds. The text of the authorizing statute can be found here.

From dogs, cats, chickens, goats, cattle, horses and more, the health and safety of the state’s domestic animals is the primary responsibility of DAR’s Animal Health Division. Through inspections, licensing, awareness and education, the Division helps to ensure the general welfare of companion and food-producing animals across the state.

Staff from the Division work with the Department of Public Health, the Animal Rescue League of Boston, the MSPCA, local veterinarians, local health departments, municipal animal inspectors and animal control officers to respond when problematic situations arise.

DAR’s mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions – Agricultural Conservation & Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health, and Crop and Pest Services – DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth’s agricultural community to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture’s role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit DAR’s website at www.mass.gov/agr, and/or follow us at www.twitter.com/MDARCommish and www.twitter.com/MassGrown.