Target: Massachusetts Representative Bruce J. Ayers
Goal: Increase penalties and double fines for animal cruelty in Massachusetts
More than a year after one of the worst cases of animal cruelty in veterinarians or rescue groups have ever seen, state Representatives in Massachusetts are still fighting for stronger animal welfare laws. One of several bills that were originally proposed has made it to the state legislature and would dramatically increase penalties for acts of animal cruelty and neglect and deserves our support.
The incident that inspired so many to take action involved a young pit bull that was found beaten, stabbed, burned, tortured, and left in Quincy Park in Boston. She was later named Puppy Doe. Unfortunately, because of the severity of her condition vets were forced to euthanize her. Local authorities were never able to track down those responsible. Following the incident, state Representative Bruce J. Ayers filed House Bill 4328, which increases the prison sentence for animal cruelty from 5 to 7 years and doubles the fine, from $2,500 to $5,000. The bill also requires that vets who know or suspect an animal has been a victim report it to local law enforcement. If a veterinarian fails or refuses to report suspected abuse, they will be reported to the Board of Registration in Veterinary Medicine.
Dr. Emily McCobb, a clinical assistant professor at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and assistant director for the Center of Animals and Public Policy, said “Mandatory reporting is probably the most clear-cut way of ensuring that it is simple, that if anything looks like abuse it is reported to law enforcement. But just because law enforcement looks into it, it by no means implies guilt. It is important that we share what we see with other agencies.”
The legislation was viewed favorably by the House Committee on Bills and has no outright opposition. Twelve states already have mandated animal abuse reporting laws and it’s time Massachusetts does as well. “Time is running out in the legislative session and it is important that this bill becomes law,” Mr. Ayers said. “The fact of the matter is that the current laws in Massachusetts are not tough enough to protect our animals. Animal abuse is inhumane, and it is an issue that needs to be taken more seriously.”
Massachusetts was already one of the first states to make animal cruelty a felony offense and the new law would create some of the most severe penalties in the country. Please sign the petition below to support HB 4328 before the legislative session ends.
Dear Representative Ayers,
Following the tragic abuse case of the pit pull puppy that has now become known as Puppy Doe, you proposed new legislation that would increase prison sentences and double fines for animal cruelty. It would also require all veterinarians who suspect abuse or neglect to report it to local authorities and hold them accountable if they choose not to. Not only Massachusetts, but also the whole country, needs animal welfare laws this strong.
Massachusetts has already passed several landmark pieces of animal rights legislation, including becoming one of the first states to make animal cruelty a felony. I hope HB4328 passes and the state continues to lead the way for the rest of the country.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: MickiTakesPictures via Flickr