On Thursday, Governor Deval Patrick signed “An Act Further Regulating Animal Control” into law, which will update laws that have been on the books for decades and create stronger, more comprehensive animal protection laws in a variety of areas.
“For years, organizations, individuals, and legislators have been seeking a comprehensive revision of Chapter 140, relating to animals; S. 2192 is the result of years of stakeholder discussions,” said Kara Holmquist, Director of Advocacy, MSPCA-Angell. “We are thrilled to see this important bill become law and believe it will make important progress in safeguarding both animals and the public.”
Provisions in this bill will help animals in a few ways, most notably by:
*Setting up a Homeless Animal Prevention and Care Fund to help cover veterinary care and spay/neuter for homeless dogs and cats to reduce their numbers and reduce costs for cities, in addition to assisting low-income pet owners with vaccinations and spay/neuter. Residents will be able to voluntarily donate to the fund through their state tax returns.
*Including pets in restraining orders to protect both people and animals from domestic violence and encourage victims of abuse to seek help without having to worry about what will happen if they leave a pet behind.
*Banning euthanasia via gas chambers.
*Creating categories for kennel licensing ranging from residential to commercial.
*Requiring health certificates for dogs and cats coming into the state.
*Requiring training for animal control officers (ACO), which has not been mandatory, and ensuring they are not also licensed animal dealers who could potentially turn over animals to research facilities. ACOs will be overseen by the Department of Agricultural Resources and will be trained in a number of areas ranging from animal capture techniques and cruelty statutes to animal health inspector duties.
*Improving the dangerous dog law to prohibit discrimination against any breed.
*Increasing fines for animal cruelty.
*Adding provisions to enforce the spay/neuter deposit law for adopted animals to ensure they can’t reproduce by requiring a written agreement and increasing the deposit, which is collected if animals are adopted out without being spayed/neutered.
While it’s unclear what will happen in cities that have breed bans in place as of now, some may try to keep them by grandfathering themselves in or using the home rule, it’s still great to see another state take a stand against BSL.
“The breed-specific things is a quick reaction to a complex problem,” said Sen. Mark C.W. Montigny, a champion of the legislation. “What we really need is a major crackdown on the people who are breeding (pit bulls) and training them to be aggressive.
“They are beautiful, loving dogs if not mistreated by ugly, mean human beings,” he said, adding that the ban on BSL will also remove any incentive evildoers have from targeting another breed.
Along with the MSPCA-Angell, this legislation was also supported by the Animal Rescue League of Boston, the Department of Agricultural Resources, the Animal Control Officers Association of Massachusetts (ACOAM) and the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association.