MSPCA Continues to Help Protect Animals from Domestic Violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Did you know that the MSPCA has worked for decades to  protect animals against violence and domestic abuse through state legislation?

Northeastern University and the MSPCA conducted a landmark study to examine the relationship between violence against animals and crime in the general. In the study, a number of cruelty cases prosecuted by the MSPCA between 1975 and 1996 were reviewed. Results indicate that 70 percent of those who committed crimes against animals had also been involved in other violent, property, drug, and disorderly crimes.

The study also concluded that a person who has committed animal abuse is:

  • 5 times more likely to commit violence against people
  • 4 times more likely to commit property crimes
  • 3 times more likely to be involved in drunken or disorderly offenses

The results of this ground -breaking study established that an animal abuser is more often a potential danger to society and more likely to be involved in other crimes.

Since then, the MSPCA has helped pass numerous pieces of legislation to protect animals against abuse and domestic violence, including advocating for a law that allows pets to be included in temporary restraining orders. This means the abuser not only has to stay away from the victim, but the victim’s pets as well.

Most recently, the PAWS II law, which takes effect on November 8, includes two provisions that help keep animals safe from abusers. The dangerousness statute has been amended to include the crimes of animal cruelty and fighting as specifically enumerated offenses to serve as the basis for a request for a determination of detention and/or release upon conditions. Given the link between domestic violence and animal abuse, consideration of the felony offenses of animal cruelty or animal fighting as a basis for pre-trial detention provides an extra measure of protection for all animals and humans involved.

PAWS II also builds on current Massachusetts law relating to the reporting of abuse, both of animals and vulnerable people, recognizing the link between these crimes. Specifically, this bill would allow animal abuse to be reported by the Department of Elder Affairs investigators and Disabled Persons Protection Commission investigators. Barriers to reporting, including civil and criminal liability exist without such a statute. The law also adds animal control officers as mandatory reporters of child abuse, elder abuse, and abuse against disabled persons.

As Massachusetts laws recognize the link between human abuse and animal abuse, all our family members can be better protected.

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