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Protecting Animals from Abusers

S. 1111/H. 1824/H. 1656: Protecting Animals from Convicted Animal Abusers

MSPCA Position: Support
Sponsors: Senator Michael O. Moore (S. 1111); Representative Tram Nguyen (H. 1824); Representative Bradford Hill (H. 1656)
Status: Referred to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. Hearing held May 19, 2021.


Placing reasonable restrictions on owning or accessing animals following an animal cruelty conviction can help end the cycle of animal cruelty.

Massachusetts law already prohibits convicted animal abusers from working with animals (Ch. 272 §77). Further, the law relating to animal sexual abuse explicitly allows courts to prohibit ownership of, or contact with, animals after a conviction of animal sexual abuse (Ch. 272 §77C). However, a legal gap exists because the law currently does not allow a prohibition on ownership or contact after other kinds of animal cruelty convictions. This legal gap can lead to increased recidivism rates and needless suffering for animals.

This legislation would establish that a person convicted of an animal cruelty crime may not harbor, own, possess, or exercise control over an animal or adopt or foster an animal for five years post-conviction, or a greater length of time that the court deems reasonable. Additionally, the bill establishes a petition process wherein a first-time offender may appeal their possession ban status if they can demonstrate rehabilitation in a number of specific ways.

This legislation does not create a new crime. It is a preventative measure that places reasonable restrictions on those convicted of animal cruelty crimes, such as torture, mutilation, or dogfighting. Additionally, it gives the court the discretion to consider each case individually.

These bills complement Massachusetts’s strong cruelty laws by providing an additional tool for law enforcement to help prevent cruelty in their communities. In fact, in its 2016 report, the Animal Cruelty Task Force highlighted the value of such a provision.

As of January 2021, 39 states have post-conviction possession ban laws, 17 of which have mandatory possession ban laws and 22 of which have permissive possession ban laws.

This legislation would also direct certain funds to the Homeless Animal Prevention and Care Fund (“Mass Animal Fund”). The Mass Animal Fund provides spay, neuter, and vaccination services to animals in need, including homeless dogs and cats and those living with low-income families. The financial challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic have turned many assistance requests into urgent pleas for help due to housing issues or medical emergencies. Many animals are going unserved, lacking critical health services. This funding will help animals in families impacted by COVID-19 and the related economic downturn.

Co-Sponsors

This list represents anyone who has signed on to co-sponsor any of the three pieces of legislation above. Click on the bill number above to see a list of legislators who specifically signed on to that bill.

State Senators:

Name District/Address
Michael O. Moore Second Worcester
John C. Velis Second Hampden and Hampshire
John F. Keenan Norfolk and Plymouth
Jason M. Lewis Fifth Middlesex
Mark C. Montigny Second Bristol and Plymouth
Brendan P. Crighton Third Essex
Patrick M. O’Connor Plymouth and Norfolk
Bruce E. Tarr First Essex and Middlesex
Sal N. DiDomenico Middlesex and Suffolk
Walter F. Timilty Norfolk, Bristol and Plymouth
Julian Cyr Cape and Islands
Adam Gomez Hampden
Joanne M. Comerford Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester
Patrick M. O’Connor Plymouth and Norfolk

 

State Representatives:

Name District/Address
Tram T. Nguyen 18th Essex
Bradford Hill 4th Essex
Steven G. Xiarhos 5th Barnstable
Lori A. Ehrlich 8th Essex
David Henry Argosky LeBoeuf 17th Worcester
Jessica Ann Giannino 16th Suffolk
Lindsay N. Sabadosa 1st Hampshire
Sheila C. Harrington 1st Middlesex
Jack Patrick Lewis 7th Middlesex
Colleen M. Garry 36th Middlesex
Adam J. Scanlon 14th Bristol
Natalie M. Higgins 4th Worcester
Peter Capano 11th Essex
James K. Hawkins 2nd Bristol
David Allen Robertson 19th Middlesex
Kate Lipper-Garabedian 32nd Middlesex
Richard M. Haggerty 30th Middlesex
Michelle L. Ciccolo 15th Middlesex
Jacob R. Oliveira 7th Hampden
Edward F. Coppinger 10th Suffolk
Steven Ultrino 33rd Middlesex
Bradley H. Jones, Jr. 20th Middlesex
Daniel J. Ryan 2nd Suffolk
Danielle W. Gregoire 4th Middlesex
Brian M. Ashe 2nd Hampden
Paul W. Mark 2nd Berkshire
Angelo L. D’Emilia 8th Plymouth
Carmine Lawrence Gentile 13th Middlesex
Paul K. Frost 7th Worcester
Hannah Kane 11th Worcester
Thomas M. Stanley 9th Middlesex
Marcos A. Devers 16th Essex
Danillo A. Sena 37th Middlesex
Tami L. Gouveia 14th Middlesex
Brian W. Murray 10th Worcester
Frank A. Moran 17th Essex
Meghan Kilcoyne 12th Worcester
Jay D. Livingstone 8th Suffolk
Adrian C. Madaro 1st Suffolk
Carol A. Doherty 3rd Bristol
Christine P. Barber 34th Middlesex
Tackey Chan 2nd Norfolk
Steven C. Owens 29th Middlesex
Nika C. Elugardo 15th Suffolk
Kip A. Diggs 2nd Barnstable
Natalie M. Blais 1st Franklin
James M. Kelcourse 1st Essex
Christopher Hendricks 11th Bristol
Jon Santiago 9th Suffolk
Thomas M. Stanley 9th Middlesex
Steven G. Xiarhos 5th Barnstable
Jack Patrick Lewis 7th Middlesex

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