Congratulations, Massachusetts – a job well done

I’m very proud of my home state of Massachusetts.   Last week, Governor Patrick signed bill  S. 2192 “An Act Further Regulating Animal Control” into law.

The new law:

  • Creates a statewide spay/neuter program to reduce the number of homeless animals and will, in turn, also reduce the cost to cities and towns for housing and sheltering these animals. This is funded by a voluntary tax check off.
  • Adds enforcement provisions to section 139A (the spay/neuter deposit law for animals adopted from shelters and animal control facilities) to ensure homeless animals can’t reproduce.
  • Requires animal control officers to receive training.  This is funded by the tax check off.
  • Prohibits carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide gas as a means to “euthanize” dogs and cats.  (Anyone who saw the HBO documentary One Nation Under Dog knows why this important)
  • Improves the dangerous dog law in a breed neutral manner
  • Allows pets to be included in domestic violence protection orders

The law will also create some statewide oversight for animal control, which previously did not exist in the state; creates categories for kennel licensing; creates consistency in the holding time for stray dogs and provide other meaningful updates to the state’s antiquated animal control laws.  An amendment to the bill also added some restrictions on the tethering of dogs.

This new law will not cost money, it will actually minimize costs to cities and towns by reducing the number of homeless animals and the associated cost to house and take care of them. In addition, ensuring that animal control officers are trained, and improving the dangerous dog law to protect public safety, will provide indirect cost savings.

Best of all, this bill proves that animal welfare agencies can work together.  The bill was drafted as a collaboration between the Animal Control Officers Association of Massachusetts (ACOAM), the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), the Animal Rescue League of Boston, the state’s Bureau of Animal Health within the Department of Agricultural Resources and the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA).

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