Senator Bruce Tarr’s Bill Protecting Animal Welfare & Safety (PAWS II) Clears Key Senate Committee

(NOTE: State Senator Bruce Tarr represents the 1st Essex and Middlesex District, which includes Wilmington.)

BOSTON, MA — Legislation sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) intended to enhance humane treatment of animals and punish those who engage in animal cruelty has received support of the Senate’s Rules Committee Chaired by bill co-sponsor Mark C. Montigny (D-New Bedford).

In 2014, Tarr led lawmakers to adopt the Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety bill, also known as the PAWS Act, following the discovery of extreme abuse and cruelty in the case of “Puppy Doe”, a dog that was stabbed in the eye, had her shoulder, elbow and ankle broken, was burned and had her tongue split to resemble a serpent. The Puppy Doe trial began this week in Dedham District Court.

“I sponsored this bill to follow up on what we achieved, and what we learned, from our first PAWS law; animals deserve humane treatment and protections from those who would abuse them,” said Senate Minority Leader Tarr.

Tarr said that in addition to lessening animal cruelty, there could be a corresponding reduction of crimes against people citing a Massachusetts study which found that a person who has committed animal abuse is five times more likely to commit violence against people.

“The Puppy Doe animal torture case inspired strong legislative action designed to increase protections for animals and prevent animal cruelty and neglect. PAWS II builds on the foundations of our original law and will ensure that abuse is reported and enforced, that animal drownings are outlawed, and that our animal control laws reflect the seriousness of animal torture and abuse,” said Senator Tarr.

Key components of the animal welfare bill, Senate 1159, an act to Protect Animal Welfare and Safety in Cities and Towns include provisions to:

Ensure abuse is reported

Require 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.

Ensure efficient enforcement of animal control laws

Increase penalties in animal control laws that provide non-criminal penalties for. Doubles the existing penalty of a $50 fine for a second offence to $100, and increased the $100 penalty for a forth offence to $500.

Prohibit the drowning of wild and domestic animals

Declare that drowning of animals as a violation of law.

Prohibit engaging in sexual contact with an animal

Remove automatic killing of animals involved in animal fighting

Remove a requirement to automatically kill animals involved in animal fighting. This bill creates other options for these animal victims.

Add animal crimes to the list of offenses that serve as the basis for a request for a determination of detention and or release upon conditions.

Include the crimes of animal cruelty to serve as the basis for a request for a determination of detention and or release upon conditions.

Prohibit discrimination against specific dog breeds

Prohibit insurance companies and housing authorities to refuse insurance coverage or housing with breed restrictions.

Require abandoned animal checks in vacant properties

Property owners and landlords must check property for abandoned animals within three days following a foreclosure or termination of tenancy.

Senators will have until Tuesday to offer amendment to the bill which is expected to be debated and adopted Thursday.

(NOTE: The above press release is from State Senator Bruce Tarr’s Office.)

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