Lead Sponsor: Senator Jamie Eldridge
Summary: This bill would help provide protection and prevent further harm to abandoned animals in foreclosed and vacated properties. The bill would require that landlords and foreclosing owners check recently vacated and foreclosed units within 5 days for the presence of abandoned animals. If an abandoned animal is found, the landlord or foreclosing owner would be required to immediately notify an animal control officer.
Why This Matters: There have been multiple cases in the past few years of animals being abandoned by their owners after the owners vacated their property. In Hudson, a 2 year old Labrador named Phantom was found dead after being left in a vacated home for weeks.
While the state of Massachusetts has a law that makes animal abandonment a felony (M.G.L. c. 272, § 77), animals left in homes vacated by eviction, foreclosure, or other termination of tenancy, can suffer and die if not found. Additionally, property owners, animal control officers, and others can be unclear about what they can do with an animal that has been left behind.
What This Bill Would Do: The bill would reduce animal suffering and death and clarify responsibilities of relevant parties. It would:
- Require that landlords and foreclosing owners inspect recently vacated and foreclosed units within 5 days for the presence of abandoned animals.
- Require the landlord or foreclosing owner to immediately notify an animal control officer, police or other authorized agent, if an abandoned animal is found. However, that landlord or foreclosing owner would not be considered the owner or person having the charge or custody of the animal under M.G.L. c. 272, § 77.
- Deem an animal abandoned if it is found in a vacated property through foreclosure, eviction, termination of tenancy or abandonment.
You can view the full text of the bill and track its history here.