By Bob Katzen

Gov. Charlie Baker and animal rights activists and supporters joined together for a ceremonial signing of legislation designed to protect cats and dogs. The new law will take effect on November 17.

Provisions double the hit and run penalty for an accident involving cats and dogs; permit animal abuse to be reported by Department of Children and Families, the Department of Elder Affairs and Disabled Persons Protection Commission employees; add animal control officers as mandatory reporters of child abuse, elder abuse and abuse against disabled persons; and increase penalties associated with operating a kennel without a proper license.

Other provisions require property owners and landlords to check their property for abandoned animals within three days following a foreclosure or termination of tenancy; prohibit the drowning of animals for euthanasia; and remove the automatic killing of animals involved in animal fighting and instead provides that animals be evaluated individually for adoption if appropriate.

“My passion for animal rights grew only more so when on August 13, 2013, Kiya, better known as Puppy Doe, was discovered lying in a street,” said Rep. Louis Kafka. (D-Sharon). “At only 18 pounds she was clearly suffering from starvation, as well as, broken bones, burns, dislocated joints, a split tongue, and a stabbed eye. As a result, the Legislature passed … [a law] to protect animals from this kind of atrocity. Building on what we have already accomplished, I am pleased that the legislature has once again stepped up protections for animals with the passage of … [this new law].”

“This is one of the most important steps Massachusetts has taken in years to systematically protect pets and wild animals against abuse, cruelty, and mistreatment,” said Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland). “As a longtime advocate for the rights of animals and those who own them responsibly, I’m proud and relieved to see this language signed into law.”

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