Thursday, August 14, 2014
Today, I issued the following press release regarding the passage of the
The House and Senate today enacted Senate Bill 2345, An Act Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety, which includes many of the provisions of the original PAWS Act filed by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) in October of 2013. The legislation was initially drafted last year in honor of Puppy Doe, a female pit bull who was euthanized on August 31, 2013 because of the extensive injuries she suffered from long term, irreversible damage to her body, which included a stab wound to her eye; the splitting of her tongue to look like a serpent; a dislocated shoulder, elbow, wrist, and ankle; burns; and signs of starvation.
“Animals are defenseless and we must do everything within our means to protect them from senseless assault and mistreatment by some of the cruelest members of our society,” said Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford), a Senate lead co-sponsor. “We must be vigilant to ensure that those serious offenders are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Representative Louis Kafka (D-Stoughton) and Representative Bruce Ayers (D-Quincy) have also been championing legislation to strengthen the state’s animal abuse laws. A total of 76 legislators from both the House and Senate signed on to the original PAWS Act.
“We’re very pleased that this crucial legislation has passed, and we extend our thanks to Senator Tarr and all of the bill’s supporters who championed these reforms,”said Kara Holmquist, director of advocacy for the MSPCA-Angell. “Animal lovers around the state can today celebrate these efforts and hopefully can find some peace knowing that from such tragic incidents, like Puppy Doe and others, awareness has been generated that will now prevent harm to other helpless animals.”
The Senate had initially approved the PAWS Act by a vote of 40-0 on July 31, the last day of formal sessions. The House subsequently adopted some minor technical amendments before passing the bill on a voice vote. The modified bill, which will give public safety officials the tools to meaningfully punish those who commit heinous acts of cruelty against animals, calls for:
- Increasing the possible fine for committing animal abuse from $2,500 to $5,000 for a first offense, and up to $10,000 for a second and any subsequent offenses;
- Raising the maximum time in prison from 5 years to 7 years for a first offense and up to 10 years for a second and any subsequent offenses;
- Requiring veterinarians to report suspected animal abuse (similar to the requirement for medical staff who suspect child abuse); and
- Creating a special task force of experts in law enforcement, animal protection, veterinary practice, legal professionals, and industry professionals to review methods to prevent animal abuse and punish those who commit animal abuse.
The bill now heads to Governor Patrick’s desk for his signature.