Bruce Tarr’s Bill Protecting Animal Welfare And Safety (PAWS II) Wins Senate Support

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

BOSTON, MA — On Thursday, the State Senate unanimously adopted a bill designed to protect the health, safety and well-being of animals, Senate Bill 2332 an act to Protect Animal Welfare And Safety In Cities And Towns (PAWS II) expands on gains first secured in the original PAWS law which was filed in response to the Puppy Doe animal abuse case of 2014, now the subject of a trial in Dedham District Court.

The sponsors of PAWS II, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) and Senate Rules Committee Chairman Mark C. Montigny (D-New Bedford), heralded the bill’s provisions which will enhance humane treatment of animals, expand the role of mandated reporters, and punish those who engage in animal cruelty.

“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.

“Our commitment towards ending the cruel and inhumane treatment of innocent animals is steadfast, and today we have taken significant action to protect their safety and welfare,” said Chairman Montigny, a longtime champion of animal welfare legislation. “There is zero tolerance for such despicable brutality and today’s action by the Senate sends a clear message.”

“We do not tolerate animal cruelty in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” said Senate President Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester). “This legislation ensures that animals are treated humanely and that those who engage in animal cruelty are punished. One animal that dies of mistreatment is one animal too many.”

The bill encompasses several key components recommended by the Animal Cruelty and Protection Task Force which was constituted under the original PAWS act. Task force members include; the Massachusetts District Attorneys’ Association, State Police, Attorney General’s office, the Animal Rescue League of Boston, veterinarians, The Humane Society of the United States – Massachusetts, and others.

Key components of the bill include provisions to:

  • Ensure abuse is reported

Require animal abuse be reported by the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Elder Affairs, and the 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 abuse. Double the existing penalty of a $50 fine for a second offence to $100, and increased the $100 penalty for a forth offense 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

Punishable by up to 7 years in prison or a fine of not more than $5,000,

  • 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.

Sponsors of the bill also point to a recent Massachusetts study which found that a person who has committed animal abuse is five times more likely to commit violence against people and four times more likely to commit property crimes.

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

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

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