Years in the Making, Governor Signs “PAWS II” Bill
BOSTON Aug. 10, 2018 – The MSPCA-Angell today lauded Governor Baker for signing An Act to Protect Animal Welfare and Safety in Cities and Towns (PAWS II).
The measure passed the legislature unanimously on July 31. Now that the Governor has signed it, the bill will take effect in 90 days.
PAWS II is a comprehensive package of animal protections that builds on Massachusetts’ long legacy of protecting animals in the Commonwealth. The new law will, among other measures, facilitate the reporting of animal abuse; ensure efficient enforcement of animal control laws; explicitly prohibit drowning of animals; end the automatic killing of animal fighting victims; require property owners to notify police or animal control officers about abandoned animals; and modernize our animal sexual abuse law by expressly prohibiting sexual contact with an animal, trafficking animals for sex, facilitating or promoting sexual contact with an animal, and forcing a child to engage in sexual contact with an animal.
The provision filed in the original bill that would have prohibited insurers offering homeowners and renters insurance from discriminating based on perceived dog breed/appearance did not make it into the final version. However, the final bill would require insurers to collect data, beyond perceived breed, that would allow policymakers and others to evaluate relevant factors in dog-related insurance claims, especially in consideration of effective dog bite prevention – without breed discrimination – in the future.
A full description of the legislation can be found here.
The Animal Cruelty and Protection Task Force was created with the first PAWS bill and this group, over the course of 18 months and 23 meetings, wrote the report upon which PAWS II was based. Members of the Task Force included: the MSPCA-Angell, Mass. Dept of Agricultural Resources, the Attorney General, Mass. District Attorneys Association, a veterinarian, an animal control officer, Animal Rescue League of Boston, the pet trade industry group, the state police, and the Mass. Bar Association. The original PAWS bill passed in 2014 after the horrific “Puppy Doe” case.
The legislation was sponsored and led through the process by Representative Louis Kafka and Senators Mark Montigny and Bruce Tarr.
“We’re grateful to the Governor and legislature for once again prioritizing the health and safety of all animals in Massachusetts by passing PAWS II,” said MSPCA-Angell Director of Advocacy Kara Holmquist.
“My passion for animal rights grew only more so when on August 13, 2013, Kiya (better known as Puppy Doe) was discovered lying in a street , at only 18 pounds she was clearly suffering from starvation, as well as, broken bones, burns, dislocated joints, a split tongue, and a stabbed eye,” stated Representative Kafka. “As a result the legislature passed the PAWS ACT to protect animals from this kind of atrocity. Building on what we have already accomplished, I am pleased that the legislature has once again stepped up protections for animals with the passage of PAWS II.
“Our commitment towards ending the cruel and inhumane treatment of innocent animals is steadfast, and with this legislation we have taken significant action to protect their safety and welfare,” said Montigny, in a statement. “There is zero tolerance for such despicable brutality and I want to thank Governor Baker for his approval.”
“PAWS II builds on the foundations of our original law and ensures that abuse is reported and enforced, and that our animal control laws reflect the seriousness of animal abuse,” said Senator Tarr. “Puppy Doe inspired me and many others to take strong legislative action to increase protections for animals and prevent animal cruelty and neglect. Animals deserve humane treatment and protections from those who would abuse them.”