Momentum growing in efforts to prevent animal cruelty
One year ago today, the Animal Rescue League (ARL) of Boston, Quincy Police Department, and Norfolk County District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey issued a public appeal for help identifying the person responsible for abusing Puppy Doe, a young adult dog found tortured, starved, and left for dead near a park in Quincy.
Her case captured the attention of animal welfare advocates and concerned citizens around the world as investigators diligently worked through the hundreds of leads brought forward to police.
Within a few weeks, the police arrested a suspect and the district attorney formally charged him with 11 counts of animal cruelty. The prosecution of the case continues as we speak.
Puppy Doe and the extreme level of abuse she suffered also inspired new conversation on the topic of animal cruelty and how to prevent it.
Massachusetts lawmakers began to consider ways to update and evaluate existing laws relating to the protection of animals in the state.
One year later, S2345 – a bill passed by both the Massachusetts House and Senate at the end of the 2014 session – will become law within a few weeks.
The bill increases penalties for animal cruelty substantially, requires veterinarians to report abuse, and creates a task force to comprehensively review all animal-related laws in Massachusetts.
The ARL is especially pleased about the impact S2345 makes on the issue of animal cruelty:
- Massachusetts has gone from a state with one of the most lenient fines for animal cruelty to one more in line with – and in many cases stricter – than other states.
- The law establishes a legal obligation for veterinarians to bring suspicions of abuse to authorities for further investigation.
Consider this: If the veterinarian who initially treated Puppy Doe had not taken the initiative to report concerns to the ARL, the world might never have known about her case.
- The formation of a task force of experts in law enforcement, animal protection, veterinary medicine, and the legal profession holds promise for more progress on the issue.
Outside the state on a national level, the National Sherriffs’ Association (NSA) and the Animal Legal Defense Fund launched the National Law Enforcement Center on Animal Abuse in August. The Center provides resources to the law enforcement community to assist with animal cruelty prevention and investigation strategies.
And as of earlier this week, the FBI will begin tracking animal cruelty cases as a separate category of crimes. Law enforcement for the first time will have a way to track the number of reported incidents of animal cruelty cases each year to better channel resources and violence prevention programs.
Perhaps most importantly, public awareness of the role we can all play in preventing horrific cases like Puppy Doe’s is growing.
The fact remains that 4 out 5 cases of animal cruelty remain undiscovered by authorities, so public awareness and action will play a critical role in making our community a safer, more humane place for animals and people.
One year on, Puppy Doe’s case continues to inspire conversation and activity. At the ARL, we look forward to pushing for progress and change.
We remain ever-grateful to our supporters and animal-lovers everywhere who are speaking up and out about the importance of preventing cruelty to animals!
Visit arlboston.org/take-action to learn more about how you can prevent animal cruelty.