Boston (MA) – State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) today joined animal rights activists and Governor Charlie Baker to celebrate the ceremonial signing of An Act to protect animal welfare and safety in cities and towns (PAWS II).
“I’m proud of the PAWS II legislation that passed this session, strengthening the protection of animals in Massachusetts,” Eldridge said. “I’m equally proud of the advocacy by my constituent Lyn Gorka, who, outraged from a dog, Phantom, dying of starvation in an abandoned house several years ago in Hudson, worked with me to file Phantom’s Law, which is one of the provisions in the PAWS II bill that Governor Baker is signing today.”
The legislation furthers anti-abuse measures first secured in the 2014 Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety bill, which was passed after the discovery of extreme abuse and cruelty in the case of a dog that was stabbed, burned, cut and had bones broken. The “Puppy Doe” case led to the arrest and conviction of Radoslaw Czerkawski who was recently convicted of 12 counts of animal cruelty and sentenced to 8 to 10 years in prison.
“I am excited for this law that I worked on for 11 years with hard work and determination,” said Gorka who has found abandoned and abused animals in her work as a realtor. “We are the voice for all the innocent animals.”
Key provisions of the animal welfare bill include:
- Expands potential for abuse reports – Permits animal abuse be reported by Department of Children and Families, the Department of Elder Affairs, and Disabled Persons Protection Commission. Adds animal control officers as mandatory reporters of child abuse, elder abuse, and abuse against disabled persons.
- Ensures efficient enforcement of animal control laws – Increases fines for violations of dog control laws up to $500 for a fourth offence.
- Doubles the hit and run penalty for an accident involving dogs & cats – From $50 to $100 for a first offence – $500 for subsequent offences and the cost of medical expenses, and or imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than 6 months.
- Prohibits the drowning of animals – Declares that drowning of animals is a violation of law for non-licensed trappers or those registered with Fish and Wildlife.
- Prohibits engaging in sexual contact with an animal.
- Removes automatic killing of animals involved in animal fighting.
- Removes a requirement to automatically kill animals involved in animal fighting. This bill creates other options for these animal victims.
- Adds animal crimes to the list of offenses that serve as the basis for a request for a dangerousness hearing.
- Examines options to prohibit discrimination against specific dog breed.
- Requires insurance companies to collect and report data of dog related incidents.
- Requires 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.
The Legislature passed this bill on August 2nd, and was signed into law by Governor Baker on August 10th.