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MA Ranks in Top 10 States for Animals

A new report ranks the Commonwealth in the top 10 states for both the strength and scope of its animal-protection laws. (Pixabay)
A new report ranks the Commonwealth in the top 10 states for both the strength and scope of its animal-protection laws. (Pixabay)
January 7, 2016

BOSTON – Massachusetts scores in the top 10 for animals in a new report that ranks protection laws in all 50 states.

The report from the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) compares the overall strength and comprehensiveness of each state's animal protection laws, and finds that the Commonwealth is doing better than most states.

"It's doing well in the top tier for animal protection,” says Lora Dunn, a report co-author and a staff attorney with the ALDF's criminal justice program. “Massachusetts has a law that allows protective orders to include animals, and in Massachusetts forfeiture of animals upon conviction is mandatory."

Those mandatory forfeitures are for those convicted of animal cruelty in the Commonwealth.

All 50 states have felony provisions for animal fighting, and now eight states make fighting an offense under RICO, the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act.

Dunn says Massachusetts could better protect animals if it adopted a federal racketeering charge for animal fighting.

In New England, Massachusetts trails Maine in the report. Dunn says one way the Commonwealth could improve protection for animals would be to address potential mental health issues for people who are charged with animal abuse.

"Mental health evaluations are not required for animal abusers,” she points out. “Maine has such a law, so Massachusetts could improve its laws by adding a mental health evaluation for convicted animal abusers."

Dunn says there is a proven link between people who abuse animals and those who abuse people. She says domestic violence offenders often manipulate human victims by threatening harm to their animals.

Mike Clifford/Scott Herron, Public News Service - MA