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State Sen. Michael Moore (D-Millbury) announced on Aug. 24 the passage of legislation intended to enhance humane treatment of animals, and to punish those who engage in animal cruelty. The legislation was signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker on Aug. 9.
“As a proud dog owner, and having served as an Environmental Police Officer, I certainly recognize the importance of protecting vulnerable animal populations,” Moore said. “I was pleased to offer my support for this legislation which offers commonsense reforms to enhance safety and care standards to protect animals and to prevent cruel treatment.”
The legislation furthers anti-abuse measures first secured in the 2014 Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety bill. The bill, also known as the PAWS Act, was introduced following the discovery of extreme abuse and cruelty in the case of a dog that was stabbed, burned, cut and had bones broken. The “Puppy Doe” case led to the arrest and conviction of Radoslaw Czerkawski who was recently convicted of 12 counts of animal cruelty and sentenced to 8 to 10 years in prison.
Key provisions of the animal welfare bill include:
• Expands potential for abuse reports by permitting animal abuse be reported by Department of Children and Families, the Department of Elder Affairs, and Disabled Persons Protection Commission. Adds animal control officers as mandatory reporters of child abuse, elder abuse, and abuse against disabled persons;
• Ensures efficient enforcement of animal control laws by increasing fines for violations of dog control laws up to $500 for a fourth offense;
• Doubles the hit and run penalty for an accident involving dogs and cats from $50 to $100 for a first offence; $500 for subsequent offenses and the cost of medical expenses, and/or imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than 6 months;
• Prohibits the drowning of animals by declaring that drowning of animals is a violation of law for non-licensed trappers or those registered with Fish and Wildlife;
• Prohibits engaging in sexual contact with an animal;
• Removes automatic killing of animals involved in animal fighting by removing a requirement to automatically kill animals involved in animal fighting. This bill creates other options for these animal victims;
• Adds animal crimes to the list of offenses that serve as the basis for a request for a dangerousness hearing;
• Examines options to prohibit discrimination against specific dog breeds by requiring insurance companies to collect and report data of dog related incidents;
• Requires property owners and landlords to check property for abandoned animals within three days following a foreclosure or termination of tenancy
To view the law, codified as Chapter 208 of the Acts of 2018, visit www.malegislature.gov.