BOSTON (STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE) – A series of new animal protection measures take effect Thursday, when dog owners will be subject to new restrictions on tethering their pets outside and first responders will have legal protections if they break a car window to rescue a pet trapped in extreme temperatures.
In August, when Gov. Charlie Baker signed the legislation establishing the protections, he described it as “one of those laws that you hope never has to be implemented.”
“You hope no one ever has to break their way into a car to save a dog or an animal in distress, but certainly if people find themselves in that situation, first responders or regular citizens, I’m glad they have the ability to do that recognizing that under state law proactive good-samaritanship would be protected,” he said.
The law, “An act preventing animal suffering and death,” makes clear that first responders encountering a pet in a hot or cold car can break the window to rescue the animal from dangerously hot or cold temperatures. Private citizens can also enter a car to release an animal in “imminent danger” if they make “reasonable efforts” to locate the owner, call 911, remain with the animal until a first responder arrives and do not use “more force than reasonably necessary to enter the motor vehicle.”
Local animal control officers and specially commissioned officers at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Animal Rescue League of Boston will be able to issue citations when dogs are housed in conditions deemed as cruel, according to the MSCPA, including “exposure to excessive animal waste, garbage, dirty water, noxious odors and other potentially dangerous circumstances.”
Fines will range from $50 for first offenses to $300 for subsequent violations.
“Being able to issue a citation will prevent suffering and prevent situations escalating to be severe enough for a felony animal cruelty charge,” Kara Holmquist MSPCA-Angell’s director of advocacy, said in a statement.
The law also prohibits tethering of dogs outside between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 p.m., except for a maximum of 15 supervised minutes, as well as when weather advisories have been issued or when extreme weather conditions — including cold temperatures, snow or hail — pose health or safety risks to the animals, according to the MSPCA.