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Pet Foster Parents Say Proposed Regulations Go Too Far

By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV
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Jim Armstrong is an Emmy-award winning reporter who joined WBZ-TV in...
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BOSTON (CBS) – People who open their homes to foster dogs throughout the state are worried about newly proposed regulations that they fear would prevent many of them from ever being able to take in another dog.

The state’s Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) has recently started what the agency says will be a months-long process of drafting new rules and regulations that govern the people who offer foster care to canines.

Among the proposals are regulations that would forbid any potential foster home from having carpeting and another that would mandate a private bathing area for all foster dogs. All foster homes would essentially be forbidden from having porous surfaces in areas where the dogs spend time, and they would all be subject to unannounced inspections, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

While foster families say they appreciate the need to protect the animals, many think these rules go too far.

Caitlin Horgan is currently caring for a little dog named Jules, who was abandoned by the side of the road in Fitchburg.

Jules went to a local rescue shelter, which placed her in Watertown with her new foster family.

When Horgan first heard about the DAR’s plan, she says she was “furious about it, furious,” and she is afraid the restrictions would drastically cut back on the number of families who take in rescue dogs.

“It’s already limited,” she explains. “It’d be awful. A lot more animals would die.”

Michael Cahill is the director of the DAR’s division of animal health, and he says he fields a constant barrage of angry e-mails from people worried about the proposed regulations. He says he understands the anxiety, but believes it is premature.

The DAR, according to Cahill, spent ten months drafting these preliminary ideas, and is at least four months away from making anything a reality. In that time, he promises that shelter and rescue officials will be consulted and their concerns will help shape the ultimate regulations.

“I think it’s important work that needs to be done,” he offers. “And the key is just making sure that people are doing it in a responsible manner. Our plan is to work with some of the shelters and rescues to start going over the rules and determine whether or not there’s changes that need to be made.”

That sounds about right to Samantha Krasner, another foster caregiver who has opened up her apartment in Boston’s South End to a rescue named Elton.

Like so many doggy foster caregivers, she just wants to make sure her concerns are addressed.

“I think at the end of the day, the Department of Agricultural Resources and rescue groups, they have the same goal, and that is to save animals,” Krasner says.

She’d like to see a level of cooperation “that would allow for rescue groups to continue to work in Massachusetts.”

Cahill says after the DAR consults with stakeholders, it will then hold a public hearing on the regulations. That likely won’t happen until sometime this autumn.

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