MUNICIPAL ANIMAL CONTROL: Several amendments were offered to S 2184, a Ways and Means redraft of S 1033 further regulating municipal animal control.
MOORE AMENDMENT - DAY CARE: Sen. Michael Moore offered an amendment relative to pet day care.
Sen. Tarr said I was hoping we could get an explanation from the sponsor. It has undergone a significant amount of changes and evolutions. It would seem to me we ought to hear from her about the bill. I would hope Madame President we would get an explanation from the lady
Sen. Jehlen said I thought the Minority Leader might be tired of hearing about this, since it passed in the last session, and the session before that. And we debated the bill for three days. This bill brings up to date the animal control laws, some of which have not been updated since the 1800s. Animal control officers are not just responsible for cats and dogs. Animal control officers have been called to respond to gorillas. The bill does not cost the taxpayers of the commonwealth a single cent. The only people who it will cost is those who disobey the law. Dangerous dogs, it gives you a variety of means for coping with that. There is the fact that many animals have been abandoned, there are many stray animals. This bill sets up a spay and neuter program, which is not funded by the taxpayers. This bill has been gestated over a period of six years, and has many stakeholders including the MSPCA, and many other groups. It requires training for animal control officers. And it quantifies how dangerous dogs are dealt with. It does a lot of cleaning up of the law. It benefits our communities giving them new tools, and eliminating conflicts. I hope we will for the third time be passed by the Senate.
Sen. Tarr said I appreciate the gentlelady's efforts to modify the bill. I know she made reference to an 800 pound gorilla. And in fact there was an 800-pound gorilla in terms of fees. The 800-poound gorilla has now been removed from this bill, and we now have a horse of a different color. I would congratulate the gentlelady for her tremendous work and her willingness.
ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER TRAINING: Sen. Jehlen offered an amendment requiring training for animal control officers.
Sen. Tarr said I wonder who will bear the cost of this training?
Sen. Jehlen said the amendment requires the animal control officers undergo training within a year of being hired. Right now that cost is beared by the community. This amendment says that the mandatory training isn't required until there is adequate funding, until the state picks up the tab.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE & PETS: Sen. Clark offered an amendment relative to domestic violence and pets.
Sen. Tarr said this area has been elusive, and it has to do with pets who unfortunately become the subject of domestic violence.
Sen. Clark said this amendment would allow courts to include animals and pets in court orders in cases of domestic violence. In many cases of domestic violence, the perpetrator will threatened beloved pets. A study showed half of battered women delay leaving a violent situation because they fear for pets. Domestic violence is now the leading cause of injury to women among the ages of 18 to 54. We have recent incidents in the news that highlight the need for this legislation. We saw a Boston man arrested for allegedly throwing his wife's kittens off a balcony. 17 other states have passed laws that include pets in protective orders. I ask that this amendment be adopted. She asked for a roll call vote. There was support.
Sen. Creem said I would also like to speak in support of this item. It was attached to the sentencing bill we have in conference committee. I am supporting it here because I think it is very important. I would hate to let this session run out without a bill on this passing. There are two young women who are being bat mitzvahed this spring, they came to the Judiciary Committee and they spoke on behalf of this bill. I applaud those young women for bringing that bill to my attention and making us understand how important it is. There are people who stay and continue to be victims because their abuser threatens to hurt or kill their pet. So they continue in this abusive relationship. It is important we understand this is also about protecting people in abusive relationships.
BY A ROLL CALL VOTE OF 33-0, AMENDMENT ADOPTED.
HOMELESS ANIMAL CARE FUND: Sen. Montigy offered an amendment relative to an advisory committee for homeless animal prevention and care fund. Sen. Montigy said this recognizes the great work of many animal care advocates. This group of folks that includes volunteer animal control officers, and paid, but they also include a bunch of passionate advocates. This simply says if money is spent we think it should be spent by those who directly know animal care. This simply suggests the people who know this the best, saving the lives of homeless and stray animals.
LOCAL APPROVAL #5: Sen. Tarr offered an amendment.
This amendment requires the local appropriating authority be required to make that decision. And I hope the amendment is adopted.
FEE INCREASE LIMITS: Amendment withdrawn.
LICENSING REPORTING REQUIRMENTS: Sen. Tarr offered an amendment. Sen. Tarr said this amendment following the first five years would require a reporting requirement, so we might be allowed to take corrective action and make sure animals are properly licensed.
Sen. Brewer said I hope the amendment is not adopted. The amendment says the commonwealth shall report the number of dogs, cats and ferrets licensed in each town. I have a real hard time ascertaining the amount of cats. And I have a really hard time ascertaining the number of ferrets. As I was working late last night looking at the cuts we will have to make, to give communities further responsibility to ascertain how many dogs and cats and ferrets there are in their communities is a lot to ask.
Sen. Tarr said when we look at this year's budget, he will look at last year's budget, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars he proposed to create new offices. It points out the dichotomy when the gentlemen seeks accountability is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. He asked for a roll call vote. There was support.
Sen. Brewer said I think he is barking up the wrong tree. The question is what does he do with the analysis of this data? I am not sure an analysis of how many dogs, and cats and ferrets would benefit public policy.
Sen. Tarr said I hope the fur won't fly. We are looking at if we are increasing fees to the point where animals are not longer licensed.
Sen. Jehlen said I want to clarify for the members. This still gives no ability for any community to raise fees. They have that ability already. It is a matter for local control. That is a matter for local control. We did a whole bill on municipal relief. This creates an additional burden on communities. This is duplicative. What will it cost the people of the commonwealth, and what good will come of it? I don't see what the point of this amendment.
Sen. Tarr said it appears the lion has been awakened. The bill allows municipalities to set their own fees. If the gentlelady is arguing they already have that authority it means the bill is already duplicative. Perhaps we should suspend the debate. This is a reporting requirement which would have a nominal cost to the cities and towns. In fact we heard within the last ten minutes from the MSPCA that this would help in regard to whether we are making progress with respect to licensure.
BY A ROLL CALL VOTE OF 4-29, AMENDMENT REJECTED.
CORRECTIVE AMENDMENT: Sen. Brewer offered a corrective amendment.
Sen. Tarr said is it a corrective; it is a technical. What is in this amendment?
Sen. Brewer outlined the corrective changes.
Question came on ordering S 2184 to third reading. It was ordered to third reading and engrossed.