governor patrick signs animal control bill
Governor Patrick signed S.2192, “An Act Further Regulating Animal Control,” into law on Thursday, August 2, 2012. The new law provides extensive protection for animals across the Commonwealth. We want to thank all of you who responded to our plea to call or the Governor’s office to encourage him to sign this legislation into law.
“I am pleased to sign this legislation that strengthens and improves our animal control laws to better protect and care for our state’s homeless animals,” said Governor Patrick.
The new law includes a number of important animal protection measures long championed by animal welfare advocates across the state. Highlights include:
The establishment of a state-wide homeless animal fund, paid for with voluntary contributions from citizens, to fund spay and neuter surgeries in state animal shelters, which will significantly reduce the number of homeless animals in Massachusetts
The addition of pets to domestic abuse prevention orders, ensuring that both human and animal victims of domestic violence can be covered by a restraining order
Prohibiting inhumane methods of euthanasia for animals in shelters deemed too aggressive or too ill to be adopted into homes
Mandatory training for animal control officers, spanning safe animal training, animal CPR and other key areas
A large coalition of animal welfare advocates to pass the legislation, including animal control officers, veterinarians, animal welfare professionals, dog owners, state and municipal officials including local State Representative Cheryl Coakley-Rivera.
Many of the laws that govern animal control date back to the 1800's. Currently, there are numerous problems with the outdated statuses that impact the animal control programs in our 351 cities and towns, leaving both the public and animals unprotected in many ways. This bill offers real solutions, based on real experiences and problems in our communities and was written by a team of experts across the state consisting of animal control officers, veterinarians, animal welfare professionals and the state's Division of Animal Health to name a few.
Summary of the bill (and points to make):
- Create a statewide spay/neuter program to reduce the number of homeless animals in the Commonwealth and would, in turn, also reduce the cost to cities and towns for housing and sheltering these animals. This would be funded by a voluntary tax check off.
- Add enforcement provisions to section 139A (the spay/neuter deposit law for animals adopted from shelters and animal control facilities) to ensure these animals can’t reproduce.
- Require animal control officers to receive training. People are often surprised to learn that their local animal control officer is not required to receive training for the complicated work they do to keep the people and animals in their community safe. This would be funded by the tax check off.
- Prohibit carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide gas as a means to "euthanize" dogs and cats.
- Reduce dog bites by improving the dangerous dog law in a breed neutral manner.
- Allow pets to be included in domestic violence protection orders to protect both animals and people.
The bill would also create some statewide oversight for animal control, which currently does not exist in Massachusetts; create categories for kennel licensing; create consistency in the holding time for stray dogs and provide other meaningful updates to the state's antiquated animal control laws.
This bill would not cost
money, it will actually minimize costs to municipalities by reducing the number
of homeless animals and the associated cost to house and take care of them. In
addition, ensuring that animal control officers are trained, and improving the
dangerous dog law to protect public safety, would provide indirect cost
Why are these changes needed?
Because many of the laws that govern animal control date back to the 1800s, the laws do not address the current state of animal control in our municipalities, which are no longer based on the county system. The fines are outdated, as is the term “dog officer”; “animal control officer” more accurately describes the role fulfilled. These proposed changes are made to Chapter 140, sections 136A through 174D to update and make the animal control laws more efficient, current and effective. They will also save cities and towns money. At the beginning of every legislative session, many bills are filed to address a section or issue relating to animal control. For years, organizations, individuals, and legislators have been seeking a more comprehensive revision; this bill is the result of stakeholder meetings to rework the sections in Chapter 140 relating to animals.
The Animal Control Officers Association of Massachusetts (ACOAM), the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), the Animal Rescue League of Boston, the state’s Bureau of Animal Health within the Department of Agricultural Resources and the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) have worked together to draft these changes.
Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society fully supports the bill and the efforts of our local voice for animals in the state legislature, Representative Cheryl Coakley-Rivera, and all co-sponsors of the bill.