Examiner.com; animal law; November 2, 2012; Cindi Ashbeck
This past Halloween was more than a day for neighborhood children to collect as much candy as possible while trick-or-treating. This past Halloween was also the day when sweeping changes to Massachusetts’ animal-related law went into effect. And this past Halloween may have been the day that Massachusetts’ new law became the precedent that other states choose to emulate when redrafting their own animal control laws.
The state’s new animal control law annuls laws that exist at lower government or local levels that were drafted to address a specific breed of dog rather than dogs in general. For instance, if a town had a law that prevented its residents from owning a certain type of dog such as a pit bull, Massachusetts’ new statewide law now prevents the local ban from being enforced. Massachusetts’ current law addresses the actions of dogs and their owners the same no matter what kind of dog is involved in a given incident, meaning the owners of certain breeds of dogs can no longer be discriminated against in the eyes of Massachusetts’ law.
Massachusetts’ new law also made Massachusetts the 23rd state in the country to allow restraining orders issued to protect humans from abuse to protect their pets as well. Hopefully, this meaningful change will prevent abuse victims from staying in an abusive environment to protect their pets and keep a victim’s animals safe from the person’s abuser.
In addition to assigning the responsibility for consistent animal-related laws to the state, Massachusetts’ new law makes it mandatory for every person who is an animal control officer to receive training that relates directly to his or her job, too. As part of their training, animal control officers will learn how to enforce dog licensing requirements which may have the added benefit of generating additional revenue for various municipalities throughout the state.
Finally, Massachusetts’ new law includes a provision to create a broad-based program designed to convince pet owners throughout the state to spay or neuter their pets.