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'Ollie's Law' Would Mandate Regulations For Pet Boarding Facilities In Massachusetts

BOSTON (CBS) – A new effort called Ollie's Law would protect pets at kennels and doggie daycares across Massachusetts.

A family in western Massachusetts is hoping their terrible loss could help save other dogs. Amy Baxter is making her pitch, urging a handful of dog lovers to get behind the law.

"A citizen really can make a difference," Baxter said.

Last October, Baxter took her labradoodle Ollie to a western Massachusetts kennel for doggie daycare - only to get a text saying he'd been attacked by other dogs.

"Dogs had broken his legs with their teeth. His entire body was covered in bites," Baxter said.

Two months and $25,000 in vet bills later, Ollie was dead.

Town officials in East Longmeadow eventually shuttered this kennel where Ollie was attacked.

Ollie the dog. (WBZ-TV)

But Baxter was stunned to learn there are no statewide regulations for pet boarding or doggie daycares in Massachusetts.

"It happens too often and it's avoidable. You can put standards in place that make sure these animals are protected and consumers know they can trust the place," Kara Holmquist said.

Baxter pulled the MSPCA on board, along with State Rep. Brian Ashe.

"We just want to make sure dogs are protected and people have a safety net," Ashe said.

That safety net would replace the current patchwork quilt of weak or non-existent local guidelines with state-mandated regulations for staffing, training, animal care, emergency protocols, and insurance coverage.

Responsible kennel operators like Jeni Mather helped craft it.

"Fair and attainable business practices. It's not overreaching, and it's well overdue," Mather said.

"It's a great first step. I think Massachusetts has an opportunity to lead the way," Baxter added.

The measure is still in joint committee at the Massachusetts Statehouse.

But Baxter and her growing army are confident it'll catch fire this fall with more people heading back to the office and seeking some assurance their pet won't end up like Ollie.

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