Bill would require landlords and foreclosing owners to check units for abandoned animals

BOSTON—The Senate voted to pass a bill sponsored by Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) that would protect animals and require landlords and foreclosing owners to inspect units for abandoned animals within three days of vacating a unit.

“This bill takes steps to ensure that animals are treated compassionately and do not suffer needlessly from mistreatment, neglect and abandonment,” said Senator Eldridge. “Animal cruelty is an incomprehensible act that can never be justified. This measure will prevent further harm to animals and make sure they aren’t hurt or injured when their owners vacate units.”

Under S2375, An Act protecting abandoned animals in vacant properties, if an abandoned animal is found the landlord or foreclosing owner would immediately be required to notify an animal control officer. The landlord or foreclosing owner would not be considered the owner or person having the charge or custody of the animal.

“One animal who dies of dehydration or starvation or exposure in a vacated property in Massachusetts is one animal too many,” said Kara Holmquist, Director of Advocacy of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-Angell (MSPCA-Angell).  “We’re grateful to Senator Eldridge for sponsoring the legislation—and to his constituents for advocating so strongly for it. While animal abandonment is a felony, without the changes this bill would make, there isn’t anything to ensure animals aren’t left behind to suffer and die.”

 “I am so happy and pleased that the Senate passed this Abandonment of Animals Bill,” said Lyn Gorka, a RE/MAX real estate agent from Marlborough. “I have waited for over 6 years to see this happen and never gave up. Saving animal lives is so important and if they could talk, they would say “thank you” for saving us.”

Over the last few years, the number of animals being abandoned after owners vacated their property has steadily risen. In Hudson, a two year old Labrador named Phantom was found dead after being left in a vacated home for weeks, spurring a call to action to file the legislation.

The bill will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.




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