- Allison Goldsberry
After six years of work, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law an animal control bill sponsored by State Senator Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville, Medford).
“This is an important piece of legislation that will go a long way toward strengthening and improving animal control laws in the Commonwealth,” said Senator Jehlen in a statement in March. “The current laws are so out of date that they reference jobs that no longer exist. This bill will help municipalities deal with the problems they face today. Furthermore, it manages to modernize and improve animal control without raising fees or taxes.”
In her legislative newsletter, Sen. Jehlen said the bill was a priority for many groups, including MSPCA, the Humane Society, the Animal Control Officers Association, the Animal Rescue League, and the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association.
“For years, organizations, individuals, and legislators have been seeking a comprehensive revision of Chapter 140, relating to animals; S. 2184 is the result of years of stakeholder discussions,” said Kara Holmquist, Director of Advocacy at the MSPCA, in a statement last spring. “We are thrilled to see this important bill moving forward and believe it will make important progress to protect both animals and the public.”
According to Jehlen, the new law updates laws dating back 200 years. It will improve animal control officer training, paid for through a voluntary tax check off. It prohibits cruel methods of euthanasia for dogs and cats, defines “dangerous dogs” based on behavior not breed, and standardizes the holding time for stray animals before they can be re-homed, saving municipalities money and allowing animals to find new homes more quickly. An amendment by Sen. Katherine Clark to include pets in domestic abuse orders to protect animals and allow for victims of abuse to leave their partners without risking further injury to their pets, was also approved.