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Any (Pet Friendly) Port In A Storm

State lawmakers, animal aid organizations, and animal lovers will meet at the State House this afternoon to celebrate the passage of a bill that benefits pet owners all over The Commonwealth. Senate Bill 1172 An Act Ensuring The Safety Of People With Pets In Disasters was signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick back in March. As the title suggests, the bill will help pet owners keep their animals safe in the event of a disaster – But how? What changes will the average pet holder see in their lives?

Previous laws concerning the evacuation and rescue of people during a disaster did not cover the pets of the people being evacuated. Civil defense organizations in the state were not required to include animals in their disaster planning, so they didn’t have the necessary shelter or rescue equipment available to provide animal care. Even service animals were excluded. This left many people to make a heart-wrenching choice: To save their own life or to stay with their pet. Many people understandably chose not to evacuate without their pet, not only putting their life in danger, but the lives of the first responders sent to rescue them.

The passage of Senate Bill 1172 aims to prevent this scenario by amending the existing laws to include not only the needs of people during an emergency, but the needs of their household pets and service animals. A section of the new amendment reads:

“Any emergency plan of operations shall include strategies to support the needs of people with household pets and the needs of household pets under their care, including service animals. The local organization for civil defense shall take appropriate steps to educate the public regarding the resources available in the event of an emergency and the importance of emergency preparedness planning.”

Not only will civil defense organizations in Massachusetts be required to plan for rescuing pets along with their people, but they must have a plan for sheltering them as well.  Organizations have twelve months to update their emergency operations plans, but if you want to get a head start, the MSPCA website has a great checklist of how to keep your family – furry family included – safe during an emergency.

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Posted in Animal Issues, Local Animal Laws, News Articles

Law Passed to Increase Penalties for Watching Animal Fights Governor Patrick Signs Important Animal Protection Measure

Courtesy MSPCA

Boston (January 6, 2009) Following years of advocating for stronger animal fighting laws, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) is pleased to announce the passage of a law that increases the penalties for being a spectator at an animal fight. The bill, sponsored by Representative Louis Kafka, was signed into law today by Governor Deval Patrick.

“Animal fighting is one of the worst forms of animal cruelty,” said MSPCA’s Director of Advocacy, Kara Holmquist. “This bill will make significant progress to help end this activity in the Commonwealth. While we have made great strides for the animals over the years, Massachusetts lagged behind many other states in the strength of its animal fighting spectator statute.”

The new law increases the penalties for aiding or being present at an exhibition of fighting animals to a maximum $1,000 fine and/or five years in prison.  The current fine is a mere two hundred and fifty dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one month, or both.

“Animal fighting is a covert activity; spectators do not simply find themselves at fights,” stated Peter Gollub, Director of the MSPCA’s Law Enforcement department.  “Animal fighting spectators are not innocent bystanders—they are willing participants in organized crime intended for amusement and gambling profits.  If we deter the spectators with significant penalties, we take away a significant fighting incentive profit.”

Representative Kafka adds, “If increased penalties for those who watch animal fights works as we intend, far fewer helpless animals will be forced to suffer as entertainment.  We should all feel good about that.”

More information about H. 1527:

Summary: This bill increases the penalties for aiding or being present at the exhibition of fighting animals under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 272, section 95.

Why is it necessary to increase these penalties?
Animal fighting is one of the most grotesque forms of animal abuse. Spectators play a key role in the continuation of animal fighting. During the course of an animal fighting event, there is usually more than one fight scheduled to take place. The participants in those fights are often arrested as mere spectators while they wait their turn to fight their animals. During the event, the spectators cheer for dogs on which they have placed wagers. They are purposely there to encourage others to engage in this criminal activity while gambling on which dog will inflict the most injuries.

How do we compare to other states?
There are 46 states that have provisions outlawing being present at an animal fight. There are 20 states that penalize this as a felony and 28 that do so as a misdemeanor.  Massachusetts ranks 6th from the bottom of all states in terms of the strength of its penalties for dog fighting.  In New England, only Massachusetts and Maine penalize this crime as a misdemeanor, with Maine’s penalty being up to one year in jail or a $2000 fine, considerably higher than Massachusetts’ penalty.

Sponsor:  Representative Kafka - please call or email to say thank you!

Posted in Animal Issues, Local Animal Laws

Boston City Council Hearing Regarding Dog Ownership and Leash Laws: Follow up

We reported on the Boston City Council meeting being held last week regarding dog ownership and potentially tightening leash laws. You can see a recounting of the entire meeting here.

 At a public hearing held at City Hall last Tuesday, District 2 City Councilor William Linehan and Sal LaMattina, chairman of the Committee on City and Neighborhood Services, heard from city officials and dozens of residents about the extent of what some say is a growing problem with dogs running off leash in city parks.

While we here at RTP recognize the value of  off-leash frolicing, we also know the importance of leash laws for the protection of all. It is our policy to walk our clients on leash and only allow off leash time in areas where it is allowed. Just like the concerned citizen’s who spoke out at the meeting, RTP staff is also often frustrated by the behavior of individuals we meet while doing our daily rounds. Too often, we spend our time picking up after other dogs (for fear of being accused of soiling our walking routes) or cautiously avoiding those who choose to not leash their dogs.

On a positive note, the meeting did seem to promote the discussion for the addition of more dog parks in Boston. The important thing here is that park use be highly regulated to encourage good behavior by all.Some ideas would be a strict limit placed on the amount of dogs allowed to be brought into a dog park by one person to dissuade dog walkers from bringing 6 dogs at a time into the park. Also, Boston should take a note from Cambridge, who has created special medallions in order to use dog spaces. No medallion means no entry, so this encourages registering dogs, allowing use of the park to residence only, and gives to opportunity to take use of the space away should the dog not behave appropriatley.

Hopefully, with a little work, Boston residence will be able to come up with a peaceable solution to allow everyone use of the green spaces.

Posted in Animal Issues, Local Animal Laws, News Articles

Upcoming Dog Issues: Question 3, The Greyhound Protection Act


There’s been a lot of contradictory information put out there about the Question 3 regarding the care and well being of greyhounds at MA area tracks.The truth surely is somewhere in between, but no one can deny the fight has gotten ugly.  There have been endorsments claims,  counter-claims and counter-counter claims.

cage.jpgOne claim I have been really curious about was the vastly different claims about the conditions and size of the cages at the parks. The picture to the left was provided by the Yes on 3 website, but I felt I should investigate further to try and find more objective evidence. What I found surprising was the difficulty I had finding pictures of the cages all together, but with a little perseverance, I was able to find the confirming shot to the right below noted to be from the same MA track . If you inspect the pictures closely you can see the same shredded paper bedding, and stacked construction.

smallbolstress_02.jpg

The prospective of RTP has been arrived at by working with many of the adoptees through our walking and running services once they have left the track and come into forever homes. While lovely dogs, we often find them to be emotionally and socially FAR behind where they should be for their age. Unfortunately, this lack of proper domestic socialization can sometimes lead to antisocial behavior, such as what befell our client Ruby.

For these reasons, and based on our personal experience, RTP will be voting yes on three in the belief that this is what’s best for animal welfare and for our state in general.

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Posted in Animal Events, Animal Issues, Local Animal Laws, News Articles

Boston City Council Hearing Regarding Dog Ownership and Leash Laws

Apparently, Dog issues may be boiling to a head in Boston. You can see more info regarding this meeting here

Important meeting for dog owners regarding increased leash laws and leash law enforcement.
Boston City Council
Hearing Regarding Dog Ownership
Tuesday, October 28th
6pm Boston City Hall
5th floor in the Iannella Chamber

Join Boston City Councilor Bill Linehan to discuss:
• Leash laws
• Dog fouling
• Improving City’s current dog control laws
• Methods to strengthen enforcement
• Conflicts between dog owners and parents
• Creating approved off- leash dog parks and dog runs

Posted in Animal Events, Animal Issues, Local Animal Laws

HB5092: Part One, Mandatory Vaccination

On July 28th, the Joint Municipalities Committee of the Massachusetts House produced HB 5092 an Animal Legislation Bill:

The first topic of this Bill regards regards mandatory vaccination schedules and reads as follows:

“Currently vaccinated”, vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian, with rabies vaccine licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and:
(A) not more than 12 months have elapsed since the animal’s most recent vaccination with the one-year rabies vaccine or was the animals initial vaccination; or
(B) not more than 36 months have elapsed since the animal’s most recent vaccination date, if the most recent vaccination with a three- year rabies vaccine and the dog has received at least 2 vaccinations.

Now, it is important to note that Rabies Vaccinations are already mandated by the M.G.L. in Chapter 140 Section 145b and read as such:
Whoever is the owner or keeper of a dog or cat in the commonwealth six months of age or older shall cause such dog or cat to be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian using a licensed vaccine according to the manufacturer’s directions, and shall cause such dog or cat to be revaccinated at intervals recommended by the manufacturer. Unvaccinated dogs and cats acquired or moved into the commonwealth shall be vaccinated within ninety days after the acquisition or arrival into the commonwealth or upon reaching the age of six months, whichever last occurs.

As you can see the intent and execution of both the current and proposed legeslation is exactly the same, dogs are required to be fully up to date on vaccination at all times. The current law does not leave room for vets to use titer levels to measure need for vaccination, which has been the objection to this part of the new bill Why the restatement? According to Representative Bradford Hill, who drafted HB1948 from which HB5092 was born “the changes are an attempt to create a catch all “dog bill” that will supersede the current legislation. It some instances that means restating what already exists, which happens in our process all the time”.

Further, a quick call to animal control confirmed the similarities of the laws. According to Marlboro AC “As it stands now, an animal MUST be able to present an up to date rabies vaccination in order to be registered with the town, titer level is not acceptable.”

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Posted in Animal Issues, HB 5092, Local Animal Laws

Current Animal Legislation: HB 5902

On July 28th, the Joint Municipalities Committee of the Massachusetts House produced HB 5092 an animal legislation Bill: You can read the whole bill here but in short the bill:

  • Imposes mandatory spay/neuter of all dogs over 12 months of age;
  • Require the annual purchase of an intact animal permit at a cost of up to $500 per dog.
  • Limit the number of reproductive events per female dog to one litter per year, with few exceptions.
  • Require the reporting of all sales of puppies to local jurisdictions.
  • Limit the amount of time a dog can be tethered (tied in a single place, not on a run) to three hours.
  • Allow towns and cities to impose breed-specific ordinances.
  • Require all dogs be kept up to date on Rabies Vaccine.
  • Establish strict nuisance laws that prohibit dogs barking for more than a 1/2 hour as an irritant to neighbors

Over the next few weeks, RTP will be breaking this bill down point by point to show the pros and cons of each section so that our readers can more actively take part in the legislative process. A lot of controversy and false information has been put out over this bill, so proceed with care when educating yourself regarding this issue.

Posted in Animal Issues, HB 5092, Local Animal Laws
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