Law prohibits animal cruelty offenders from working with animals

A new bill signed into law in Massachusetts will prohibit anyone convicted of cruelty to animals from working with any animal, including in veterinary hospitals.

Under the new law, anyone convicted of animal cruelty will be prohibited from working in a capacity that involves contact with animals, including veterinary hospitals, pet shops, grooming services, and shelters.

The legislation also bans a person from keeping a dog chained or tethered to a tree, dog house, pole or other structure for longer than 24 consecutive hours. Under provisions of the law, tethers must be designed for dogs, and no lines such as logging chains are allowed, according to the Republican.

The law also establishes restrictions for keeping dogs outside, with certain exemptions including for herding cattle. It requires that dogs be in a pen or secure enclosure, a fully fenced yard, or a trolley system or tether attached to a pulley in a cable run under certain conditions. Dogs would need to have adequate space for exercise and access to water and shelter.

The bill includes a series of fines to protect dogs from cruel conditions including keeping them in garbage or filth, harassing a confined dog or allowing it to be attacked by another animal.

The legislation was created with the help of animal control officers, veterinarians, animal welfare professionals, the state’s Division of Animal Health and others, the Republican reported.

Other highlights of the bill include: allowing a municipality to eliminate license fees for dogs owned by people age 70 or older; including pets in restraining orders involving domestic violence victims; and creating a state-administered fund to raise money for spay, neuter surgeries and vaccinations of homeless dogs and cats, or those owned by low-income residents and to train animal control officers.

The fund, called a homeless animal prevention and care fund, would receive money through a voluntary check-off donation on annual income tax returns and from donations by public and private sources.

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NEWStat Legislation & regulation