(Boston, MA, 08/24/16) Photo by Matt Stone
An Act Preventing Animal Suffering and Death was passed and codified as Chapter 248 of the Acts of 2016. It took effect on November 17, 2016
We thank the Governor and the legislators for taking action and to everyone who took time to advocate for this law.
To see the new law, visit the state’s website. See more photos on our flickr site.
What does this new law do?
- Improves the effectiveness of a law restricting dog tethering by making the law more enforceable. This bill prohibits tethering between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am, unless it is for less than 15 minutes. It also prohibits tethering for more than 5 hours during the day. Improves impact of the law that restricts tethering and prohibits keeping dogs in “cruel conditions” by allowing additional agencies to enforce it.
- Enables animal control officers, fire fighters, and law enforcement to remove animals kept in vehicles in a manner reasonably expected to threaten the health of the animal due to extreme heat or cold. In extreme weather, cars can heat up rapidly, putting animals left in cars at risk for suffering and death. Law enforcement officers shouldn’t have to have to wait until an animal is suffering so much it is a violation of the animal cruelty statute before removing an animal from a vehicle. S. 2369 allows individuals to remove an animal when in immediate danger in a vehicle and no other options exist.
Why are these protections needed?
Good tethering policies prevent dogs from living on chains and help both people and dogs. Dogs are naturally social animals who thrive on interaction. A dog kept continuously on a chain suffers immense psychological damage and an otherwise friendly and docile dog can become neurotic, anxious, or aggressive.
The inside of a car can heat up to 100° F in 10 minutes on an 80° F day – even with the windows slightly open. Animals may suffer and can die quickly when left in a hot car. A car will heat up rapidly and an animal is unable to cool himself or herself down. Pets can suffer needlessly and could die when left in a car even on a moderately hot day.
Many animal control officers have expressed concern that waiting to remove an animal from a vehicle until the animal is suffering enough to be a violation of the cruelty statute is inhumane, wrong and can still be too late for the animal. Earlier intervention can save the animal and save the owner from being charged with animal cruelty, a felony in Massachusetts. This bill will also be helpful in educating the public about the dangers of leaving animals in cars in extreme weather. Citations will enable officers to promote animal safety and will hold offenders accountable for their actions.
HEAT STRESS IN PETS
Danger signals to watch for in a dog or cat:
heavy panting ● rapid breathing ● staggering ● weakness
A heat-stricken animal can die in minutes, but proper care may save its life.
- Immediately bring the animal to a shady spot.
- Cool the animal by dousing them completely with water or placing them in cool water.
- Take the distressed pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Treatment for dehydration and other serious problems will be necessary.