Banned in Boston? Nips, guinea pigs on the chopping block

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The City Council’s looking to add two new entries to the “banned in Boston” ledger: nips and guinea pigs.

Councilors introduced two new items that would — separately from each other — look to hold a hearing to explore the ban of miniature liquor bottles generally known as “nips” and bar the sale of guinea pigs.

The nip order comes from City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo, the district councilor from Hyde Park — a neighborhood where some locals have been waging war against what they’ve said are thousands of discarded nips.

“The data is clear that in cities that have banned the sale of nips there is a significant and positive impact on public health,” Arroyo said in a statement. “We should put the wellbeing of our communities first by banning the sale of nips in Boston as well.”

Nips are typically sold at liquor stores and, per Arroyo, generally can’t be recycled. The councilors said that other local cities and towns including Chelsea and Newton plus some areas of Cape Cod have nixed the sale of nips.

Arroyo cites a Commonwealth Magazine article that suggested a correlation between Chelsea passing the rule in 2020 and the number of alcohol-related ambulance calls dropping.

The hearing on this matter will be scheduled after the order is introduced in Wednesday’s meeting.

Also being introduced on Wednesday is an unrelated proposed ordinance change from City Councilor Liz Breadon that would ban the sale of guinea pigs from being sold at pet stores in the city. In 2016, the city banned the sale of dogs, cats or rabbits except from shelters or rescue organizations, and Breadon wants to add guinea pigs to that list.

“Boston-area shelters are experiencing a surge in guinea pig surrenders over previous years, with the MSPCA-Angell in July 2022 reporting that it received more than 210 guinea pigs and rabbits over a three month span,” Breadon wrote in the proposed ordinance change. She also posits that “a significant share of guinea pigs sold at pet shops come from large-scale, out-of-state commercial breeding facilities and brokers.”

She wrote that the great guinea-pig surrender of the past few years is occurring elsewhere, including New York City, which has seen its influx double. She wrote that the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has said that 60% of guinea pigs surrendered here came from pet stores, and that the

Boston Animal Care and Control has reported intake statistics for guinea pigs demonstrating significant increases year over year from 2020 through 2022, and Boston 311 data reveals a growth in cases regarding guinea pigs since 2021; and WHEREAS, ; and WHEREAS, The MSPCA reports that over 60% of its guinea pigs surrendered by owners were originally acquired at pet stores, and that the length of time guinea pigs remain in shelters is nearly twice as long as cats and dogs; and

It should be noted that this wouldn’t be a prohibition on the possession of a guinea pig within city limits — just the sale of them from Boston pet stores. Same with the nip rule in concept — having nips isn’t illegal, you just couldn’t buy them here if such a rule were to be passed.

guinea pigs banned? The city council is going to look at the issue. (Metro Creative Services photo)

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