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A new animal welfare act restricts pets from being confined in cars or tethered during weather extremes, and limits dog tethering.

A new law for animal welfare gives pets more protections from extreme heat and weather. St. 2016, c. 248 An Act Preventing Animal Suffering And Death was signed in a ceremony by Governor Charlie Baker August 24 after Bill S.2369‘s enaction in mid-August.

Massachusetts joins 22 states with laws about animals confined in parked vehicles. The Act prohibits pet owners from leaving animals inside vehicles during extreme cold or heat – when temperatures inside a car can exceed levels outside – or environmental conditions “that pose an adverse risk to the health or safety of the dog.”  A bystander, in addition to animal control officials, law enforcement or firefighters, may enter the vehicle if “reasonably necessary to prevent imminent danger or harm to the animal.” Any action by a person or first responder would follow checking to see if the door was locked, calling 911, and making an effort to locate the owner.  The person must stay with the animal until law enforcement arrives, and is immune from liability resulting from the animal’s removal.

The Act also prohibits dogs being tethered outdoors for more than 15 minutes during a weather advisory or watch issued by federal, state or municipal agencies, as well as extreme weather conditions.  Additional restrictions were placed on dog tethering “for longer than 5 hours in a 24-hour period and outside from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., unless the tethering is for not more than 15 minutes and the dog is not left unattended by the owner, guardian or keeper.”

For additional information about animal law in the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Law About Animals page has links to legislation and other sources.

 

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