H. 1220 Strengthens Financial Protections for Animal Care Facilities
The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) joined Representative Linda Dean Campbell, fellow animal welfare organizations, state and local officials, animal control officers, and the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association at MSPCA-Nevins Farm in Methuen today, to announce the signing of H. 1220 – An Act Updating the Law Relating to Posting a Security for Seized Animals in Cruelty Cases.
H. 1220 was sponsored by Representative Campbell (D-Methuen), supported by 72 co-sponsors, and signed into law by Governor Baker on January 13. It will become effective on April 14.
“I am very optimistic about the positive impact this bill will have to expedite animal cruelty cases, promote better treatment of animals, and remove a financial and administrative burden on cities and towns,” said Representative Campbell.
Animal Cruelty cases often involve cities and towns, as well as organizations like ARL taking custody of the animal(s) affected. Some cases may take months to resolve, and the costs of caring for these animals is extensive. The update to H. 1220 now allows the prosecuting agency to request a court order for the accused to post a security bond, which can be utilized to pay for medical care, quarantine, behavioral training, food, shelter, and other care-related costs. This will hopefully expedite future cases.
“The organizations that care for and shelter the animals currently can request the court to order the accused to post a bond to cover the costs of sheltering the animal,” said Nadine Pellegrini, ARL’s Director of Advocacy. “Allowing the Attorney General and District Attorneys to also file the petition for a bond will be an addition, and hopefully, more efficient tool which will streamline the procedure during the course of the case and lead to a quicker resolution.”
Like people, the psyche and health of animals is fragile, and holding animals long-term isn’t only costly, it can be harmful. For dogs and cats these can manifest as aggression, the loss of house or litterbox training, or obsessive behaviors such as chewing and gnawing on themselves. And, medically, stress can result in a suppressed immune system, making animals susceptible to infectious diseases.
“It can be very challenging for shelters to meet the behavioral and medical needs of animals confiscated and held in cruelty cases,” stated Dr. Erin Doyle, ARl’s Lead Veterinarian. “Any measure that helps to provide resources for their care or expedites placement of these animals into stable homes will be greatly beneficial.”
As the new Legislative Session gets underway, the Animal Rescue League of Boston will continue its mission to be a champion for animals in need by collaborating with advocacy colleagues and working with law makers to further strengthen animal protection laws in Massachusetts.