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Dogs Left in Hot Cars and Abandoned in Homes Protected Under New Massachusetts Bills

P8010053_thumb By Tamara | July 04, 2016 | Comments (0)

The Massachusetts Senate has passed three new bills that would help protect pets left in hot cars, abandoned in homes and taken from their mothers too early. All three aim to keep pets from harm.

One bill titled "An Act Relative to Protecting Puppies and Kittens" would ban dogs and cats younger than 8 weeks old to be sold to consumers. Although stores in the state are already are prohibited from selling pets this young, this bill would make the rule apply to everyone, especially targeting backyard breeders, unscrupulous puppy mills and online sellers, who often take puppies and kittens away from their mothers when they are too young.

The second bill (Senate bill 2369) proposes to protect pets left in hot cars by giving more power to authorities and the general public. The bill would protect police, animal control officers and firefighters from criminal or civil liability if they remove an animal they believe to be in distress.

"Many animal control officers have expressed concern that waiting to remove an animal from a vehicle until the animal is suffering enough to be a violation of the cruelty statute is inhumane, wrong and can still be too late for the animal," the MSPCA wrote on its website.

The change would also allow Good Samaritans to break into a car to save a pet, as long as they follow a series of steps beforehand and contact 911. Senate bill 2369 also protects animals tethered outside for extensive periods of time or kept in other cruel conditions.

Finally, the third proposed bill aims to save pets left behind in homes. It would require landlords and foreclosing owners to check their property after a tenant's departure within 5 days to ensure an animal has not been left behind. This bill is sponsored by Senator Jamie Eldridge and proposed a few years ago, after a Labrador Retriever died after being left behind in an apartment by his owners.

The senator's website states, "There have been multiple cases in the past few years of animals being abandoned by their owners after the owners vacated their property. In Hudson, a 2 year old Labrador named Phantom was found dead after being left in a vacated home for weeks."

"While the state of Massachusetts has a law that makes animal abandonment a felony (M.G.L. c. 272, § 77), animals left in homes vacated by eviction, foreclosure, or other termination of tenancy, can suffer and die if not found. Additionally, property owners, animal control officers, and others can be unclear about what they can do with an animal that has been left behind."

The bill aims to reduce animal suffering and death and clearly outline the steps for landlords and property owners and obligates them to check their properties to ensure no animal is left behind to suffer like Phantom was.

The bills have passed the Senate, and will now need approval from the Massachusetts House and Gov. Charlie Baker before becoming law.

“We’re so encouraged by the depth and breadth of these bills and the sheer number of animals and people who’ll be protected should all three of them pass,” said Kara Holmquist, director of Advocacy for the MSPCA-Angell.  “We look forward to Massachusetts continuing to lead the country on efforts to safeguard animals from harm and I’m confident members of the House will ensure these bills become law.”

View more articles in: Advocacy and Animal Welfare

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