Animal welfare organizations push for passage of important bill before July 31
Boston, MA– Animal welfare organizations including the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) and the MSPCA-Angell have united behind House Bill (H.) 4244 and have issued a call to action to Massachusetts residents to contact legislators to move the pending legislation to the house floor for a vote before the legislative session ends on July 31.
H. 4244 would increase the maximum penalties for convictions of animal cruelty from 5 to 7 years and from $2,500 to $5,000. The bill also creates a task force comprised of experts in law enforcement, animal protection, veterinary medicine, and the legal system to do a comprehensive evaluation of Massachusetts animal cruelty laws to ensure continued progress.
State Representative Lou Kafka, one of H. 4244’s sponsors, explains, “The bill makes a necessary update to outdated penalties and ensures that legislators continually receive the best advice on how to combat animal cruelty in our Commonwealth from those who deal with it most frequently.”
Though the bill has wide-spread support in both the Massachusetts House and Senate, the challenge is to move the bill forward for a vote before the end of the month.
“The case of Puppy Doe galvanized many animal welfare advocates and legislators to put forward legislation like H. 4244, and we need to keep the momentum going,” says Mary Nee, president of the ARL. “We see far too many cases of animal cruelty every day. Passing this bill now is critical to strengthening our ability to prevent future cases in Massachusetts.”
Massachusetts currently has some of the most lenient fines in the nation for animal abuse and ranks behind many other states on prison time as well. Nee adds cruelty penalties have not been updated or expanded in nearly ten years.
The ARL and MSPCA-Angell have information posted on their websites and social media explaining how to find contact information for legislators, what to say, and how to spread the word to other animal welfare supporters. Visit arlboston.org/take-action for more information from the ARL.
Another of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Bruce Ayers believes, “The passage of the bill out of the Judiciary Committee two weeks ago is evidence that lawmakers are listening to their constituents, who—especially in the wake of the horrific Puppy Doe animal abuse case in Quincy, my district, last year —are demanding stricter penalties for those who abuse or kill animals.”
Kara Holmquist, director of advocacy for the MSPCA-Angell states, “Research has consistently shown a link between animal cruelty and violence against humans. By increasing the penalty for animal cruelty we are not only working to keep animals safe from harm but we can hopefully have an even bigger impact in the overall efforts to reduce crime. This bill will ensure that this is just the beginning of an effort to protect animals.”
In addition to increasing penalties, H. 4244 would also require veterinarians to report suspected animal cruelty, a provision supported by Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association. The amended bill took provisions from bills filed by Representatives Kafka and Ayers, as well as Senator Tarr’s PAWS Act.
About the Animal Rescue League of Boston
Founded in 1899, the ARL is dedicated to rescuing domesticated animals and wildlife from suffering, cruelty, abandonment, and neglect. In 2013, the ARL served over 14,000 individual animals through our shelters in Boston, Brewster, and Dedham, and our law enforcement, rescue, and veterinary services. The ARL receives no government funding and relies solely on the generosity of supporters to help animals in need. Visit arlboston.org for more information.
About the MSPCA-Angell
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 www.mspca.org and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mspcaangell