Cities and towns would face standardized animal control laws and updated dangerous dog laws but be banned from banning specific breeds of dogs, such as pit bulls, and dog owners would pay a new surcharge to pay for spaying and neutering of cats and dogs, under legislation that won initial Senate approval on Monday.
The lengthy bill, sponsored by Sen. Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville) and pushed by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, creates a $4 licensing surcharge of owners of unneutered dogs and a $2 surcharge for owners of spayed or neutered dogs (cats are not licensed in Massachusetts). It defines a dangerous dog as any dog that "without justification, attacks a person or domestic animal or causing physical injury or death, or behaves in a manner that a reasonable person would believe poses an unjustified imminent threat of physical injury or death to one or more persons, domestic or owned animals."
The legislation also bans the use of carbon monoxide as a means of euthanizing cats and dogs. A Jehlen aide, noting the law updates animal control statutes dating back to the 1800s, said the preferred method of putting a dog or cat down is lethal injection.
The legislation also establishes a seven-day statewide holding time for stray dogs.
The bill on Monday was released by the Senate Ways and Means Committee, which received the legislation in December 2007. According to a committee summary, the bill is supported by the Executive Office of Administration and Finance and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
Senator Jehlen's contact email: Patricia.Jehlen@state.ma.us
Massachusetts Legislature: http://www.mass.gov/legis/