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Massachusetts governor signs bill to protect animals from the dangers of hot cars, extended tethering

Animal welfare organizations thank the Governor and legislators for taking action

Today, in a ceremony at the State House, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill that will ensure animals can be rescued from hot cars, limits the time dogs spend on a tether and increases enforcement of existing prohibitions on keeping dogs in cruel conditions. The new law will take effect on November 17.

S.2369, an Act Preventing Animal Suffering and Death, gives animal control officers, law enforcement officers and fire fighters authority to remove an animal and cite the owner when conditions in a car are expected to threaten the health of the animal due to extreme heat or cold. The new law will also prohibit dog tethering between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., and when a weather advisory or warning has been issued. Tethering is permitted during these hours for less than 15 minutes and only if the dog is not left unattended.

Under S.2369, special police officers from the MSPCA and the Animal Rescue League of Boston will be able to enforce existing prohibitions on keeping dogs in cruel conditions, such as exposure to excessive animal waste, garbage, dirty water, noxious odors and other potentially dangerous circumstances. This provision provides greater protection for dogs by permitting these law enforcement officers to issue financial citations when verbal warnings are not effective.

“This is the first animal protection bill to cross the Governor's desk, and The Humane Society of the United States, the MSPCA, and the Animal Rescue League of Boston are grateful to Governor Baker for signing S.2369 into law,” said Stephanie Harris, Massachusetts state director for The HSUS. “Animal protection is a bi-partisan issue that has tremendous support among Massachusetts voters. We’re grateful to both the Governor and the state legislature for continuing Massachusetts’ trend of leading the country in protecting animals.”

“With the signing of this bill, animals in Massachusetts will be safer. The need to enact S.2369 was met with widespread support throughout the House and Senate and now by the Governor’s office,” said Mary Nee, president of the Animal Rescue League of Boston. “We are grateful that first responders and citizens can protect the well-being of animals. We are also excited that our law enforcement officers now have the ability to enforce the law and stop animals from living in, and being exposed to, cruel and inhumane conditions.”

“We thank the Governor for signing this bill and the many legislators who worked to make this new law possible.” said Kara Holmquist, director of Advocacy for the MSPCA. "The Governor’s signing of this bill into law will help maintain Massachusetts as a leader on animal protection and will have a significant impact on animals in our state.”

Elected Official Quotes:

“We should hold ourselves to the same standard of protection for our animals as we do for humans,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “I am pleased to sign this important legislation that strengthens and clarifies our state laws extending the safety and treatment of our pets.”

"Most of us treat our pets like family members -- some even better -- but for the poor animals that are neglectfully left in hot or cold cars or tethered inappropriately, this new law is for them," said Lori Ehrlich (D -Marblehead) the House sponsor of the bill. "Thank you to the MSPCA for raising awareness and making sure that those who cannot open doors, untether themselves, or speak, have a strong voice on Beacon Hill."

“I’ve seen firsthand in my district the issue of animals in hot cars,” stated Representative Angelo Puppolo. “I am proud to have advocated for this new law to ensure animals have the best chance of surviving this potentially deadly situation.”

“This measure represents an important step forward for the health and well-being of animals here in Massachusetts. Now the MSPCA and Animal Rescue League, working cooperatively with animal control officers, will be able to rescue animals if they are in danger,” said Representative David Rogers (D-Cambridge). Civilians will also be able to save pets from hot cars after looking for the owners and notifying law enforcement. This new law will provide a safety net for animals, helping ensure they do not suffer needlessly.”

“I’m very pleased that we got this done before the summer ends,” said Representative Kafka (D-Sharon). “I am confident that this legislation will go a long way in reducing these kinds of occurrences, which often have tragic results.”

"The bill signed today strengthens crucial protections for animals by expanding the authority of special state police officers employed by the MSPCA and the Animal Rescue League of Boston to enforce already existing restrictions relative to how dogs can be tethered outside and what kinds of conditions they can be subjected to," said Senator Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville). "I'm grateful for the Legislature's efforts to protect animals across the state and look forward to the bill taking effect."

“The signing of S. 2369 reaffirms Massachusetts’ commitment to ensuring that the lives of our animals are valued. I am glad I was able to play a role in advancing this important legislation to keep animals safe in and out of their homes and in all weather conditions,” said Senator Barbara L’Italien.

“Pets who provide us with enduring companionship and love must be protected from cruel and abusive actions by neglectful owners. This legislation will crack down on such reckless treatment by empowering local authorities and the general public to take action while imposing stiff penalties on the perpetrators. Simply put the animal first. If you see one in distress call 911 and break the window,” stated Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford).

"Signing of this legislation raises awareness and provides guidelines and direction for a person to act when they encounter a dog in danger when locked in a vehicle in extremely hot weather," said Representative Ted Speliotis (D-Danvers).


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