Sudbury Patch: Legislature Makes Change to Eldridge Bill Protecting Abandoned Pets

Landlords and foreclosing owners will have to inspect recently vacated and foreclosed units within 3 days for the presence of abandoned animals.
In Hudson, this 2-year-old Labrador named Phantom was found dead after being left in a vacated home for weeks.

A bill filed by State Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) to provide protection for abandoned animals in foreclosed and vacated properties was received favorably by Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government on Wednesday, Eldridge’s office told Sudbury Patch.

The only change to the bill (S942: An Act protecting abandoned animals in vacant properties) is the amount of days that landlords and foreclosing owners check recently vacated and foreclosed units to search the property from 5 to 3 days.

“I filed (the bill) to help provide protection and prevent further harm to abandoned animals in properties that have been foreclosed or vacated,” Eldridge, the state senator for parts of Sudbury, said in January.

If any abandoned animals are found, then the landlord or foreclosing owner would be required to notify an animal control officer. The bill does not make the landlord or foreclosing owner further responsible for the animal.

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.

According to Eldridge, the bill would reduce animal suffering and death and clarify responsibilities of relevant parties. It would 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.

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