Two action items in the news – can you help?
The Thomas J. O’Connor Animal Control and Adoption Center (where Gillys come from!), needs donations of laundry detergent right now. 627 Cottage Street, Springfield Mass..
MA HB 1499—Animals in Protective Orders
Sponsor: Rep. Katherine Clark
ASPCA Position: Support
Action Needed: Call your Massachusetts state senator and representative to urge their support for HB 1499 and request that they advise the Joint Judiciary Committee chairs to pass HB 1499 out of committee. Look up your legislator’s phone number using the form at the bottom of this page.
Massachusetts House Bill 1499, “An Act to Include Animals in Abuse Prevention Orders,” would allow judges to include companion animals in temporary restraining orders and thereby require a defendant to stay away from and/or not abuse an animal. The bill is pending in the state legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee, which only has until March 17 to pass HB 1499 and allow this important humane bill to advance in the legislative process.
HB 1499 would help protect both animals and people. Sadly, pets are often used as pawns in domestic disputes. A study of women seeking temporary “safe haven” shelter showed that 71% of those having companion animals reported that their partners had threatened, hurt, or killed their animals. Studies have also repeatedly shown that the threat of animals being killed or harmed deters battered women from leaving abusive situations.
Importantly, HB 1499 would not cost the state any money; it is a straightforward measure that would simply allow a court to direct the defendant not to have contact with and/or harm an animal. Comparable bills have been enacted into law in Maine, New York and Vermont (2006); California, Connecticut, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada and Tennessee (2007); the District of Columbia, Louisiana and Puerto Rico (2008); and Washington, North Carolina and Hawaii (2009). Massachusetts should be next!
What You Can Do
Please call your two state legislators to urge them to (1) support HB 1499, and (2) notify the chairs of the Joint Judiciary Committee—Senator Cynthia Creem and Representative Eugene O’Flaherty—that they support this bill and would like to see it receive a “favorable report” from the committee.
When you call, you will most likely speak to a staff member who will offer to pass your message along to your legislator. Here are a few suggestions that may help guide you when speaking to a Senate or House staffer:
- Tell them which legislator you would like to reach, and give your name and address so they know you are a constituent.
- Tell them that you are calling to urge your senator or representative to (1) support HB 1499, and (2) request that he/she notify the Joint Judiciary Committee chairs that he/she would like HB 1499 to receive a “favorable report.”
- Be sure to thank the person you speak with for taking the time to consider your views.
Thank you for your help, Massachusetts.