Improvements in Massachusetts Animal Welfare Law

According to the Animal Rescue League of Boston, Senate Bill S2345 (formerly known as H4328/H4244) has passed the Massachusetts Senate. It is now waiting for the signature of Governor Deval Patrick. On their Facebook page, ARL posted a statement thanking residents for making this happen, giving credit to the citizen animal advocates who called legislators in the final weeks of the 2014 session to urge passage of this bill.

“Phone calls to legislators from animal welfare supporters like you made the critical difference in creating a sense of urgency to getting the bill through.”

State Representative Lou Kafka, one of the key members in moving the bill through the House, says this is a day to celebrate, as the new law will update the outdated penalties handed out to animal abusers. At the same time, it will ensure legislators receive the best advice on how to fight future animal cruelty in the state, handed down by those who deal with it most frequently.

Once the bill is signed by Governor Patrick, it will take effect in 90 days. Maximum penalties for animal cruelty convictions will be raised from five to seven years, and the maximum fine will go from $2,500 to $5,000. Repeat offenders may be given up to a 10 year sentence and/or a fine of $10,000

SB 2345 will also require veterinarians to report suspected animal abuse to authorities. A task force will also be created, comprised of experts in law enforcement. In addition, the new law requires veterinarians to report suspected animal abuse. Also included once the law goes into effect is the creation of a task force comprised of experts in animal protection, veterinary medicine and the law. This group will continue to evaluate the state’s cruelty statues to ensure offenders are given the harshest punishment possible.

Gone are the days when those convicted of animal cruelty are given a slap on the wrist. At least in Massachusetts, those who have fought to see this bill through the House and Senate understand the position pets play in our lives. The increased prison time and fines are needed nationwide, not just in the few states who have had the forward thinking to make it happen.

In December, 2013, the Animal Legal Defense Fund Releases Year-End Report Ranking State Animal Cruelty Laws ranked Massachusetts as number 19 in having the best animal protection laws. These new, stricter penalties, along with the task force and the requirement of vets to report abuse, will likely propel the state to one of the best areas in the United States in companion animal protection.

If you would like to contact the Governor’s office in hopes of getting this bill signed into law, contact information is listed below.

Governor Deval Patrick
Boston info
Phone: 617.725.4005
888.870.7770 (in state)
Fax: 617.727.9725
TTY: 617.727.3666
Washington, DC info
Phone: 202.624.7713
Fax: 202.624.7714


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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