BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker Thursday signed legislation, spearheaded by Sen. Mark Montigny, that will enhance the humane treatment of animals and prevent cruelty.
Montigny, in announcing the governor's action, said "PAWS II" — Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety in Cities and Towns — is now law following weeks of negotiations.
Montigny has been a longtime champion of animal welfare legislation in the Massachusetts State Senate, helping to create and fund the Homeless Animal Prevention and Care Fund as well as his landmark 2016 legislation to protect dogs from the deadly confines of hot cars and cruel tethering conditions.
PAWS II furthers anti-abuse measures first secured in the 2014 Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety bill inspired by the brutality uncovered in the Puppy Doe case. In that case, “Puppy Doe” suffered broken bones, stab wounds, and severe burns. Radoslaw Czerkawski was convicted in March 2018 and sentenced to 8 to 10 years in prison.
“Our commitment towards ending the cruel and inhumane treatment of innocent animals is steadfast, and with this legislation we have taken significant action to protect their safety and welfare,” said Montigny, in a statement. “There is zero tolerance for such despicable brutality and I want to thank Governor Baker for his approval today.”
PAWS II, according to Montigny's office:
Doubles the hit and run penalty for an accident involving dogs & cats — From $50 to $100 for a first offense — $500 for subsequent offenses and the cost of medical expenses up to $2,500, and or imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than 6 months.
Expands abuse reporting. Permits animal abuse to be reported by Department of Children and Families, the Department of Elder Affairs, and Disabled Persons Protection Commission employees. Adds animal control officers as mandatory reporters of child abuse, elder abuse, and abuse against disabled persons.
Requires abandoned animal checks in vacant properties. Property owners and landlords must check property for abandoned animals within three days following a foreclosure or termination of tenancy.
Ensures efficient enforcement of animal control laws. Increases fines for violations of dog control laws up to $500 for a fourth offense.
Prohibits the drowning of animals. Declares that drowning of animals is a violation of animal cruelty law for non-licensed trappers or those registered with Fish and Wildlife .
Adds animal crimes to the list of offenses that serve as the basis for a request for a dangerousness hearing.
Examines options to prohibit discrimination against specific dog breeds. Requires insurance companies to collect and report data of dog related incidents.