The governor of Massachusetts signed new legislation into law that will impose tougher sentences for animal abusers. It also requires veterinarians to report suspected cases of animal abuse.
The new law goes into effect in 90 days and expands the discretionary power of the courts to impose additional penalties in cases with aggravating factors. Those could include the number of animals involved, the degree of premeditation, whether the abuse occurred in the presence of a child or if there was a financial benefit for the abuser, as there is in dog fighting.
The law increases the maximum jail sentences from five up to 10 years. The fines have also gone from $2500 to $5000 for first time offenders and up to $10,000 for re-offenders.
Much like doctors, who are required to report suspected child abuse cases, veterinarians will be penalized under the new legislation if they don’t report animal abusers. A task force is also being created to continue strengthening the state’s animal abuse laws.
The PAWS Act or Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety Act was drafted by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) in 2013 in honor of “Puppy Doe.” The female pit bull was euthanized in August after she sustained extensive injuries including a stab wound to her eye; the splitting of her tongue to look like a serpent; a dislocated shoulder, elbow, wrist, and ankle; burns; and signs of starvation.
Radoslaw Czerkawski (above) is charged with the sadistic torture of the two-year-old pup.
Tarr says, “Now we have stronger penalties and a clear message that if you abuse an animal there will be serious consequences.”
Studies show there is a correlation between animal abuse, family violence, and other forms of community violence.