S. 2345: An Act Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety (formerly H. 4388/H. 4328: An Act Relative to the Penalty for Killing, Maiming, or Poisoning Animals)
Increases maximum penalties for animal cruelty from 5 to 7 years in prison and from $2,500 to $5,000 fine and creates enhanced penalties for repeat offenders (up to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000); requires veterinarians to report suspected animal cruelty; and creates a task force to consider future protections for animals and ways to strengthen Massachusetts' cruelty laws. Read the law here. It takes effect on November 18, 2014.
Status: Signed into law on August 20th! Thanks to Governor Patrick, Reps. Bruce Ayers and Louis Kafka and Senators Bruce Tarr, Mark Montigny, and Gale Canderas who ensured that the bill moved as far as possible during the formal legislative session.
Background: In August 2013, the Animal Rescue League of Boston responded to the case of “Puppy Doe,” a puppy who was systematically and severely tortured over several months. She had to be humanely euthanized because her injuries were so severe. Her alleged abuser has been charged. The details of this case galvanized people who care about animals to ensure that Puppy Doe’s abuser (and others who engage in such cruel acts) will be penalized in a way that is sufficient for the crime. To read more about Puppy Doe, visit the Animal Rescue League of Boston's website.
As a result, there has been an inquiry into our laws that deal with animal cruelty and efforts to make the laws stronger. While Massachusetts consistently ranks in the top tier of states regarding the strength of our laws to protect animals, there is always room for improvement. The last time the penalties were updated was almost a decade ago — in 2004. And at that time, the increase was less than was originally sought. It is important we remain on the forefront of animal protection and ensure that our laws reflect our values as a community. Additionally, there is a critical link between domestic violence and cruelty to animals. Research has shown consistent patterns of animal cruelty among perpetrators of other forms of violence, including child abuse, spousal abuse, and elder abuse. It’s in everyone’s best interest to address animal abuse as the serious crime it is.
This bill is supported by: