BOSTON- On Tuesday, October 8th, Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) signed on to An Act Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety, commonly known as the “PAWS Act”, as a co-sponsor. The bill comes in the wake of a recent case of animal abuse in Quincy, Massachusetts where a two-year-old female pit bull, known as “Puppy Doe,” was discovered in a park, suffering from long term, heinous and irreversible damage, which ultimately forced the dog to be euthanized on August 31st.
“As a former environmental police officer, I have witnessed the horrors of abuse and cruelty some animals experience at the hands of humans, which is why I have signed on as a co-sponsor to the “PAWS Act,” Senator Moore stated. “Cases, such as the “Puppy Doe” incident, show us that it is vital for the Commonwealth to protect all living things in our state, including animals. This bill creates adequate punishment for those who choose to harm animals and sends a message that abuse of any kind will not be tolerated in Massachusetts.”
The “PAWS Act”, raises fines and penalties, and creates an animal abuse registry. Other highlights of the bill include:
· Establishing an anonymous animal abuse tip hotline;
· Expanding the use of the Homeless Animal Prevention and Care Fund to include the rehabilitation and care of abused animals;
· Imposing a fine of up to $1,000 on any veterinarian who knowingly and willfully fails to report a suspected act of cruelty to an animal;
· Increasing the penalties associated with cruelty to animals, or maliciously killing, maiming, disfiguring, or exposing them to poison from $2,500 to between $2,500 and $10,000 (current law also includes imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 5 years or imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 2 ½ years);
· Increasing the penalties for a second or subsequent offense from 5-10 years state imprisonment and a fine between $5,000 to $20,000;
· Increasing the penalty for a hit and run conviction on a cat or dog from a $50 fine to up to $2,000 fine and/or up to 60 days in a house of corrections;
· Creating a statewide registry of convicted individuals of animal abuse crimes, and requires all animal shelters, pet stores or animal breeders to check the registry prior to offering, selling, delivering, or giving an animal to any individual; and,
· Creating a 9-member commission to review the state’s animal cruelty laws, many of which date back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The bill also includes a measure to allow district attorneys to file a petition in courts ordering a defendant to post a security or bond for the care of animals that have been impounded as a result of abuse or cruelty.