Cruelty Prevention

Animal Cruelty Laws

Overview of Animal Cruelty Laws in Massachusetts

It is unlawful for an owner or custodian of an animal:

To fail to provide an animal with:

  • Proper food and water
  • Shelter or protection from the weather
  • Veterinary attention needed to reduce or end suffering from disease or injury
  • A sanitary environment

To willfully abandon an animal

To carry or cause an animal to be carried in or on a vehicle in a manner that endangers the animal including transport of an improperly secured animal

To willfully permit an animal to be subjected to unnecessary torture, suffering or cruelty

To subject, cause or procure an animal:

  • To be tortured or tormented
  • To be cruelly killed, beaten or mutilated

To fail to notify the owner or police after striking a dog or cat with a motor vehicle

To use animals as lure or bail in a cruel or inhuman manner

To transport an animal in the back of a motor vehicle unless animal is properly restrained

In November 2004, animal cruelty, as defined in Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 272, Section 77, became a felony.  Until November 17th, animal cruelty had been considered a misdemeanor.  Now, violations of this law may result in a sentence of up to five years in state prison, or up to 2.5 years in a county jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. In addition, following a criminal conviction, the animal subjected to abuse shall be forfeited by the abuser.