Thursday, March 6, 2014

The PAWS Act

This morning Gifford Cat Shelter Board President Lisa Sacchetti sat down with Shannon Mulaire of the Fox 25 Morning News to discuss animal abuse laws in Massachusetts. During their conversation, Lisa and Shannon discussed the PAWS Act, a measure I filed to strengthen our animal abuse laws, and to justly punish those who would commit such crimes.

The bill was filed in direct response to recent animal cruelty cases, such as the case of “Puppy Doe”, a female pit bull that was discovered in a Quincy park suffering from long term, irreversible damage to her body. Her wounds included the splitting of her tongue to look like a serpent; dislocated shoulder, elbow, wrist, and ankle; burns; starvation; and a stab wound to one of her eyes.

The legislation raises fines and penalties, and creates an animal abuse registry. Highlights of the bill include:

• Establishing an anonymous animal abuse tip hotline;

• Expanding the use of the Homeless Animal Prevention and Care Fund to include the rehabilitation and care of abused animals, and increasing the size of the board that administers the fund to include a special state police officer from an animal humane organization, and a member of local law enforcement;

• Imposing a fine of up to $1,000 on any veterinarian who knowingly and willfully fails to report a suspected act of cruelty to an animal;

• Increasing the penalties associated with cruelty to animals, or maliciously killing, maiming, disfiguring, or exposing them to poison from $2,500 to between $2,500 and $10,000 (current law also includes imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 5 years or imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 2 ½ years);

• Increasing the penalties for a second or subsequent offense from 5-10 years state imprisonment and a fine between $5,000 to $20,000;

• Increasing the penalty for a hit and run conviction on a cat or dog from a $50 fine to up to $2,000 fine and/or up to 60 days in a house of corrections;

• Creating a statewide registry of convicted individuals of animal abuse crimes, and requires all animal shelters, pet stores or animal breeders to check the registry prior to offering, selling, delivering, or giving an animal to any individual; and

• Creating a 9-member commission to review the state’s animal cruelty laws, many of which date back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

To watch Lisa’s interview this morning on FOX 25 please click here and play the posted video.