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State Sen. Jehlen Touts New Animal Control Laws

A new law signed by the governor updates old laws governing pets and animals in the state, according to Somerville State Sen. Patricia Jehlen.

Medford State Sen. Patricia Jehlen sent an announcement (below) about new animal control laws recently signed by the governor.

According to Jehlen's announcement, the Animal Control Act covers a number of things:

  • Improves training for animal control officers
  • Prohibits cruel forms of euthanasia for dogs and cats
  • Defines "dangerous dogs" based on their behavior, not on their breed
  • Allows stray animals to be adopted more quickly
  • Updates fines for things like failing to vaccinate pets or running unlicensed kennels
  • Allows courts to issue abuse prevention orders related to pets

Here's Sen. Jehlen's announcement (edited slightly to reflect the date the governor signed the bill, Aug. 2):

Governor Signs Animal Control Act

After many years of trying and after passing it 3 times in the Senate, an act relative to animal control has finally passed both the House and Senate and was signed by the Governor Aug. 2. This legislation has been a priority for me as well as for the many groups that advocate for animal welfare in Massachusetts including MSPCA, the Humane Society, the Animal Control Officers Association of Massachusetts, the Animal Rescue League of Boston, and the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association.

This important legislation makes critical changes to our outdated animal control laws. One of the cornerstones of this legislation is improved animal control officer training. This training will be offered for free to animal control officers through the Department of Agriculture. It will be paid for through a voluntary tax check off on tax returns and will be mandatory for all officers when the training becomes available. Any excess funds from the tax check off will be used for a state wide spay and neuter program.

The legislation also prohibits cruel methods of euthanasia for dogs and cats, defines “dangerous dogs” based on their behavior not their breed and standardizes the holding time for a stray animal before it can be re-homed which will save municipalities money and allow for these animals to find new and loving homes more quickly. It also updates various fines that have not been updated in the last 30 to 70 years for offenses such as failure to vaccinate a dog, maintaining a kennel after license revocation and violating laws on dog and kennel licenses.

The final version of the bill also included a provision added by Senator Katherine Clark that includes pets in protective orders and allows the court to order a defendant to refrain from abusing, threatening or disposing of an animal. This is an important provision that protects both victims and animals, as pets are frequently used as a means of control in domestic violence situations. Studies by the American Humane Society show that nearly half of battered women delay leaving an abusive environment because they fear for a pet’s safety.

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