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Bill to Prevent Antifreeze Poisoning Headed to Governor’s Desk

Massachusetts poised to become 13th state to adopt safety measure

BOSTON — A bill targeted at reducing the ingestion of poisonous antifreeze and engine coolant by children and animals is now headed to the desk of Gov. Deval Patrick for passage into law. The Humane Society Legislative Fund, The Humane Society of the United States, and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals commend the Massachusetts State Legislature for approving the measure that will save countless animal lives.

H. 4285 would require antifreeze and engine coolant to include a bitter flavor agent to prevent animals and children from being poisoned by the sweet-tasting liquid. Poisoning occurs because children and animals are attracted to the sweetness of antifreeze and engine coolant, which inadvertently spills in our driveways or is left in open containers in garages. The bill will require manufacturers to add bitter-tasting denatonium benzoate to antifreeze and coolant sold in the state. The bill was championed by Reps. John W. Scibak (D-South Hadley), Martin Walsh (D- Boston), and James Welch (D-West Springfield), and Sens. Stephen M. Brewer (D-Barre), and Patricia D. Jehlen (D-Somerville).

"The addition of a bitter agent to antifreeze and engine coolant is a common-sense solution to a serious safety issue for children and animals," said the MSPCA's Director of Advocacy, Kara Holmquist. "The MSPCA-Angell operates one of the world's largest animal hospitals, Angell Animal Medical Center, and without question, we see the tragic consequences of ingesting these poisonous chemicals. We hope that Governor Patrick will sign this legislation to ensure additional safety measures for the children and pets of Massachusetts."

In a MSPCA survey, 67.9 percent of responding, licensed veterinarians in Massachusetts reported treating animals for antifreeze ingestion. Many veterinarians noted the high mortality rate and the speed at which antifreeze poisoning causes irreparable damage to the animals' internal organs.

"An estimated 90,000 animals are poisoned each year after ingesting ethylene glycol, a highly toxic substance used in antifreeze and coolant," said Sara Amundson, executive director of the HSLF.  "By passing this bill, the Massachusetts Legislature is providing an additional tool to prevent antifreeze poisonings.  We urge Governor Patrick to make Massachusetts the thirteenth state to enact this lifesaving law."

The bill was also supported by the Consumer Specialty Products Association, the trade association representing antifreeze and engine coolant manufacturers, and the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association.

The other states where the HSLF has passed similar legislation are: Arizona, California, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin. Similar legislation has been approved by the Illinois Legislature, and awaits the Governor's signature. Bills are still pending in New Hampshire and Ohio.

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The MSPCA-Angell is a national and international leader in animal protection and veterinary medicine and provides direct hands-on care for thousands of animals each year. Founded in 1868, it is the second-oldest humane society in the United States. Services include animal protection and adoption, advocacy, humane education, law enforcement and world-class veterinary care. The MSPCA-Angell is a private, non-profit organization. It does not receive any government funding nor is it funded or operated by any national humane organization. The MSPCA-Angell relies solely on the support and contributions of individuals who care about animals. Please visit www.mspca.org.

The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a separate lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. The HSLF works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues, and to support humane candidates for office. On the web at