Massachusetts Adds to Animal Cruelty Statute

When Massachusetts strengthened its animal cruelty statute in 2014, it also set up a task force to make additional recommendations. A new law resulted—signed in August—that raises certain penalties and makes three other significant changes: (1) It makes animal sexual abuse a new offense. (2) It adds committing an animal cruelty crime, including animal fighting, to the causes for a finding of “dangerousness”—thereby allowing for an order of pretrial detention or “release on conditions.” (3) It specifically permits personnel of agencies serving children and families, the elderly, and disabled persons to report suspected animal abuse, while conversely designating animal control officers as mandatory reporters of child abuse, elder abuse, and abuse of disabled persons. With respect to item 3, AWI has long encouraged social service and humane law enforcement agencies to “cross-report” to better protect both human and animal victims of abuse.