Massachusetts has just enacted a comprehensive new law to promote the humane treatment of animals. Under the new law, any person convicted of cruelty to animals is prohibited from working in any capacity that requires contact with animals; including shelters, veterinary hospitals, grooming services or pet shops.
The new law also prohibits a person from keeping a dog tethered to a tree, pole, house, or other structure for longer than twenty-four hours. The law specifies that tethers must be designed for dogs without long lines, such as logging chains. Additionally, the law outlines restrictions for keeping dogs outside: owners must keep dogs in a pen, a fenced yard, or another secure enclosure and dogs must have adequate space for exercise and access to food and shelter. Failure to comply with these requirements could result in a series of fines for the perpetrator.
The law includes other provisions to benefit animals and their caretakers:
- Allows a municipality to waive a license fees for dog owners over 70 years of age;
- Permits the inclusion of pets in restraining orders involving domestic violence;
- Creates a state-sponsored fund to raise money for spay and neuter surgeries and vaccination of homeless cats and dogs, or those owned by low-income residents, and to provide training for animal control officers.
As state Representative Cheryl A. Coakley-Rivera pointed out, the new law “offers real solutions, based on real experiences and problems in our communities.” Kudos to Massachusetts legislators for adopting meaningful provisions to protect animals from abuse in the state.