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2012 – Wholesale Bittering Agent and Antifreeze Law

Most people get their vehicles serviced at garages that use wholesale containers of antifreeze, which were exempted from the 2010 law; if those vehicles leaked antifreeze, animals could still be poisoned.  After a dog named “Schubert” was poisoned by antifreeze, this legislation was filed to further protect animals (and people). This law requires the addition of a bittering agent to wholesale containers of antifreeze. This law was signed on 1/4/13 and took effect 90 days hence.

Our Press Release: State Lawmakers Pass Bill to Protect Animals from Antifreeze

BOSTON, Dec. 28, 2012 – Yesterday Massachusetts lawmakers passed legislation to strengthen the existing antifreeze law that will help keep animals safe, an issue for which MSPCA-Angell’s Advocacy team has been lobbying steadily for years. The expanded antifreeze protections will take effect 90 days after Gov. Deval Patrick signs the law. MSPCA officials are urging the governor to sign the new law without delay.

Named “Schubert’s Law,” the new law would require bittering agent to be added to large, wholesale containers of antifreeze widely used in repair shops and car dealerships throughout Massachusetts. The current law only requires bittering agent be added to all retail antifreeze containers sold in the state.

The passage of Schubert’s Law marks a significant milestone for the MSPCA’s advocacy efforts as it comes on the heels of the recently passed animal control law, which includes an array of comprehensive animal protection measures. Said Linda Huebner, deputy director of Advocacy for the MSPCA-Angell: “We are grateful to lawmakers who, in voting for this bill, prioritized the safety of animals. It’s estimated that at least 90,000 companion animals die from antifreeze poisoning annually. We believe these expanded protections are crucial to saving lives and reducing suffering.”

In Honor of Schubert

Rev. Paul LaPalme, pastor of St. Brigid’s Roman Catholic Church in Millbury, Mass., lost his dog Schubert last year when the dog drank from a puddle contaminated with antifreeze next to a car dealership in Worcester. Schubert began vomiting and was rushed to a veterinarian, where he later died. “Nothing will ever bring Schubert back but I’m profoundly grateful that this law has passed—and my hope is it will spare other animal lovers from losing their pets in such an agonizing way,” he said.

In addition to animal deaths, thousands of people, mostly children, are poisoned by antifreeze each year; between 2008 and 2010, there were 282 human exposures in Massachusetts, according to the Regional Center for Poison Control and Prevention.

The new law will mandate the addition of an aversive, extremely bitter substance known as denatonium benzoate to make antifreeze unpalatable to animals and humans. Denatonium benzoate is already used in other household products, would not significantly increase the cost of antifreeze, and does not have any known long-term negative environmental or health effects.

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