S. 1127, H. 2426: An Act protecting abandoned animals in vacant properties
MSPCA Position: Support
Sponsor: Senator James Eldridge, Representative Dave Rogers
Status: These provisions passed and were signed into law as part of PAWS II. They took effect on November 8, 2018.
What is the problem with abandoned animals?
While animal abandonment is a felony (Ch. 272 sec. 77), animals who are abandoned in vacant properties due to foreclosure, eviction or other termination of tenancy, can suffer and die if not found. They are left without any means to fend for themselves. Additionally, property owners, animal control officers and others can be unclear about what they can do to with an animal who has been left behind.
What would the bill do?
The bill would reduce animal suffering and death and clarify responsibilities of relevant parties. It would:
- require that landlords and foreclosing owners check recently vacated and foreclosed units within 3 days for the presence of abandoned animals.
- require the landlord or foreclosing owner to immediately notify an animal control officer, police or authorized agent, if an abandoned animal is found
- deem an animal abandoned if it is found in a vacated property through property foreclosure, eviction, termination of lease or tenancy or tenancy at will.
Unfortunately, there are many cases that demonstrate the need for better laws. For example:
- “Miracle” was a starving, emaciated dog, abandoned for two months in a New Bedford apartment, and who jumped out of a third-story window in an apparent search for food.
- “Chickadee“ was found close to death in an abandoned apartment in Dorchester by the landlord after the tenant moved out.
- “Phantom” was a 2-year-old Labrador found dead in Hudson in 2011 after a call was received for a foul smell.
This bill passed the Senate during the 2013-2014 and 2015-2016 sessions.