Mass. Senate passes major animal protection bills
Bills provide greater protections for puppies and kittens in pet shops and tackle animal cruelty
The State Senate unanimously passed two animal protection bills on March 15, 2018.
S. 2347, An Act to Protect Animal Welfare and Safety (PAWS II), sponsored by Senators Mark Montigny and Bruce Tarr would, among other things:
- Ensure animals don’t suffer and die when abandoned in vacated properties by requiring a property owner to check for animals within 3 days of when the owner knew or should have known that the property was vacated;
- Explicitly prohibit drowning animals;
- Require employees of certain agencies to report suspected animal cruelty, abuse, or neglect in the course of their work;
- Remove requirement that animal victims of animal fighting operations be euthanized.
An additional section added to the original bill clarifies and updates the law against animal sexual abuse, by prohibiting sexual contact with an animal and prohibiting the promotion or facilitation of an act involving sexual contact with an animal and forcing a child to engage in sexual contact with an animal.
A broad-based Animal Cruelty and Protection Task Force worked for more than 18 months to craft comprehensive legislative solutions that address a wide variety of animal cruelty issues. The legislature formed this task force in 2014 after outcry from the “Puppy Doe” case and an acknowledgment from legislators that we can do more to protect animals. The bill is now in House Ways and Means.
S. 2331, An Act to Protect Puppies and Kittens, sponsored by Senator Karen Spilka, also passed the Senate and would enact several provisions to protect animals and consumers:
- Prohibit the sale of puppies and kittens under eight weeks of age;
- Improve the “puppy lemon law” to better protect and provide recourse for families who unknowingly purchase a sick puppy or kitten;
- Require promulgation of rules and regulations for higher-volume Massachusetts breeders;
- Ensure that Massachusetts pet shops only sell puppies and kittens from breeders who adhere to minimum animal health and welfare standards.
Families who unknowingly buy puppies from pet shops have little recourse; they can either return their new pet for a refund or for a new animal. This bill will provide a remedy to these families by allowing them to keep their new puppy and receive reimbursement for veterinary fees up to 100% of the animal’s cost.
By prohibiting any sale of puppies and kittens less than eight weeks of age, the bill addresses the negative impact that being separated from their mother can have on health, behavior, and wellbeing. S. 2331 will ensure breeders selling to pet shops hold a current USDA license, don’t have three or more violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act in the past three years, and that they meet the rules and regulations that will be established by the state. This bill is now in House Ways and Means.