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Massachusetts Legislature Passes Bill to Improve Protections for Pets

Aug 11, 2016 03:28PM ● By Bill Gilman

Annie says it's time to get your dog licensed for 2015!

On one of the hottest days of 2016, the Massachusetts Legislature has passed a bill that would prevent animal suffering and death by ensuring animals can be rescued from hot cars, limiting the time dogs spend on a tether, and increasing enforcement of existing prohibitions on keeping dogs in cruel conditions. The bill is now headed for the Governor’s desk.

S.2369 would give animal control officers, law enforcement officers, and fire-fighters authority to remove an animal and cite the owner when conditions in a car are expected to threaten the health of the animal due to extreme heat or cold. The bill would also prohibit dog tethering between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., and when a weather advisory or warning has been issued. Tethering is permitted for less  than 15 minutes and if the dog is not left unattended. 

“Enactment of S. 2369 reaffirms Massachusetts’ commitment to ensuring that the lives of our animals are valued. I am glad I was able to play a role in advancing this important legislation to keep animals safe in and out of their homes and in all weather conditions,” said Senator Barbara L’Italien, D-Andover.

With the passage of S.2369, special police officers from the MSPCA and the Animal Rescue League of Boston could enforce existing prohibitions on keeping dogs in cruel conditions, such as exposure to excessive animal waste, garbage, dirty water, noxious odors and other potentially dangerous circumstances. This provision provides greater protection for animals by permitting these law enforcement officers to issue financial citations when verbal warnings are not effective. 

“This is the first animal protection bill to reach the Governor's desk, and The Humane Society of the United States, the MSPCA, and the Animal Rescue League of Boston urge Governor Baker to sign S.2369 into law,” said Stephanie Harris, Massachusetts state director for The HSUS. “Animal protection is a bi-partisan issue that has tremendous support among Massachusetts voters. We’re grateful to the state legislature for continuing Massachusetts’ trend of leading the country in protecting animals.”

“The urgency to pass S.2369 thankfully has not been lost on our legislators. Just last week a dog died in Plymouth after being left in a vehicle and another one was near death in Quincy,” said Mary Nee, president of the Animal Rescue League of Boston. “We will continue to advocate for the safety and well-being of all animals and urge the Governor to sign S.2369 giving our first responders the protections to do their job without fear of lawsuits and the ability to protect all animals in need.”

“We thank the many legislators worked to move this bill through the legislature to get it to the Governor’s desk.” said Kara Holmquist, director of Advocacy for the MSPCA. "This bill will help maintain Massachusetts as a leader on animal protection and will have a significant impact on animals in our state.”


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