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Law to Protect Animals from Natural Disasters Officially on the Books in Massachusetts

BOSTON, June 2, 2014 – Just in time for hurricane season, the MSPCA-Angell today announced it will join a coalition of legislators, animal welfare and disaster protection agencies on Wednesday, June 4 at 2:00pm at the Massachusetts State House to celebrate the passage of a bill that protects people and animals from severe storms and natural disasters.  The bill, signed into law in March, requires cities and towns to have a plan in place to address the evacuation and sheltering needs of household pets and service animals before, during, and after an emergency or natural disaster.


Celebration of Senate Bill 1172, “An act ensuring the safety of people with pets in disasters,” and demonstration of disaster preparation tips.  The bill was sponsored by Senator Karen Spilka and passed both the House and Senate with broad support.  The speaking program will include remarks by Senator Spilka, David Schwarz, from the State of Massachusetts Animal Response Team, Kurt Schwartz of MEMA, and Leighton Jones of the American Red Cross of Massachusetts.


The event will be attended by Senator Karen Spilka, and many of the bill’s other cosponsors.  Also attending will be officials from:

  • The MSPCA-Angell and Animal Rescue League of Boston
  • The Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association
  • The Animal Control Officers Association of Massachusetts
  • The State of Massachusetts Animal Response Team
  • The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency
  • The Medical Reserve Corp. of Massachusetts
  • The City of Boston’s Emergency Management and Animal Control Department


The ceremonial signing will take place at the “Well” in front of the State House on Beacon Street in downtown Boston on Wednesday, June 4 at 2:00pm.


Government and legislative sources, as well as officials from the animal protection, veterinary and disaster response community, will be available for interviews. The ceremony will be highly visual, offering excellent broadcast and still photography opportunities including:

  • A fully equipped “disaster trailer” complete with emergency response equipment used to rescue both humans and animals during severe weather, other disasters
  • Adoptable dogs from the MSPCA-Angell and Animal Rescue League of Boston
  • A professional demonstration aimed at helping pet owners prepare their animals for a disaster


Senator Karen Spilka: “As a dog owner and animal lover, I understand how many people would be reluctant to leave their pets behind in the case of a natural disaster or other emergency.  No one should be forced to choose between their own safety and the safety of their pets, and with this new law we are taking important steps to enhance public safety and ensure proper care of pets and service animals across the state.”

David Schwarz of the State of Massachusetts Animal Response Team (SMART): “Victims of a disaster should not have to suffer the additional emotional stress of having to abandon their pets. I’m glad that the legislature and Governor took these steps to ensure public safety and better care for our animals—which will only bolster our efforts to remain at-the-ready ahead of any disaster that threatens their safety.”

MSPCA-Angell Director of Advocacy Kara Holmquist: “This bill passed in just one legislative session which validates just how important it is to protect animals and people during natural disasters—which pose an increasingly severe threat to Massachusetts residents.   With the signing of this bill into law, citizens will never have to choose between their own safety and that of their pet or service animal.”

The MSPCA includes a summary of the new law, and other pending animal protection legislation on its Website.  Click here to read more on how the bill will protect people and animals.





The MSPCA-Angell is a national and international leader in animal protection and veterinary medicine and provides direct hands-on care for thousands of animals each year. Founded in 1868, it is the second-oldest humane society in the United States. Services include animal protection and adoption, advocacy, humane education, law enforcement, and world-class veterinary care. The MSPCA-Angell is a private, non-profit organization. It does not receive any government funding nor is it funded or operated by any national humane organization. The MSPCA-Angell relies solely on the support and contributions from individuals who care about animals. Please visit and like us on Facebook at