Penalties to increase for animal cruelty

A first offense could lead to a maximum of seven years in prison

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – State lawmakers are working to stiffen penalties for animal abuse. This bill, known as the PAWS Act, would also require veterinarians to report any animal abuse they notice.

22News went to the Northampton Veterinary Clinic to see if this would change any current practices.

Dr. Ellie Shelburne said they’ve never been required by law to report abuse, but they do it anyway. She said in Northampton, there aren’t many cases of animal abuse, but they have had to call police before.

If Governor Patrick signs this bill into law, Dr. Shelburne said it will give veterinarians more rights. She told 22News, “This law will make it a lot easier for us, because we have privacy issues and worry about getting in trouble from somebody not feeling like that was fair for us to do. Now it’s mandatory, so it makes it very easy for us to promote animal welfare.”

The PAWS Act increases the maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty from five to seven years for a first offense. A first-offense fine could also be increased to 5-thousand dollars under this bill, and 10-thousand for any other offense.

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