On March 15, Arlington Sen. Cindy Friedman and the Senate voted in favor of S.2332, An Act to protect animal welfare and safety in cities and towns (PAWS II), and S.1155, An Act relative to protecting puppies and kittens, to protect the health, safety and well-being of animals.
“It is our duty to advocate for those who are unable to advocate for themselves,” said Friedman in a statement sent to Patch. “These bills impose essential health and safety measures to protect animals and pet owners, and reaffirms our commitment to animal welfare in the Commonwealth.”
The idea of PAWS II, which passed unanimously after being introduced on March 9, is to encourage humane treatment of animals and punish those who engage in animal cruelty. It expands the original PAWS law, which was filed in response to the Puppy Doe animal abuse case.
The key components of the PAWS II bill include ensuring abuse is reported; efficient enforcement of animal control laws; the drowning of wild and domestic animals is banned; sexual contact with an animal is banned; the requirement to kill any animal involved in animal fighting is removed; and animal crimes get added to the list of offenses that serve as the basis for a request for a determination of detention and or release upon conditions. It also prohibit discrimination against specific dog breeds; and requires abandoned animal checks in vacant properties.
S.1155 was brought forward in January 2017 and had a couple amendments before it passed unanimously by the Senate. The bill would ensure that puppies and kittens are bred and sold in safe and healthy environments and strengthens the Massachusetts “Puppy Lemon Law” to give pet owners more options if they unknowingly purchase a sick pet.
S.1155 applies safety and breeding standards to protect pets and pet owners. It also prohibits the sale of puppies and kittens younger than 8 weeks old, increasing the likelihood that they will grow to be healthy dogs and cats, and outlines a process for a veterinarian to declare an animal suffering from a significant adverse health condition “unfit for sale.”
To protect pet owners who unknowingly purchase a sick pet, the bill outlines remedies available to buyers of animals declared unfit for sale, including exchange of the animal or a refund and reimbursement for reasonable veterinary fees. The bill also sets forth a procedure for a seller to contest these demands.
It also has a stipulation for regulating commercial breeders and pet shops, prohibiting pet shops from selling dogs or cats that come from unlicensed breeders or those who have committed certain violations of the Animal Welfare Act. Pet shops would also be required to maintain certain compliance records and conspicuously post identifying information for the animal and the breeder.
Finally, the second bill empowers the Department of Agriculture to create rules and regulations to ensure commercial breeders maintain humane conditions.
Both S.2332, An Act to protect animal welfare and safety in cities and towns (PAWS II), and S.1155, An Act relative to protecting puppies and kittens, to protect the health, safety and well-being of animals now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.