Phantom the Labrador's emaciated and dehydrated body was found many months after his pet parents had left him behind. Now, some five years later, his legacy could be about to bear fruit. Law S. 2174, which was passed by the Massachusetts Senate this week, could see all landlords required to check on vacated properties to ensure that no pets have been left behind.
Only discovered once neighbors began to complain about a smell emanating from the abandoned apartment, Phantom is one of many pets that are disregarded when tenants choose to move on. Law S. 2174, which would be the first of its kind, would require landlords to inspect properties within three days, and to report any pets to law enforcement agencies, or animal control.
Speaking to Barkpost.com, MSPCA-Angell Director of Advocacy Kara Holmquist said of the proposed law: "One animal who dies of dehydration or starvation in an abandoned property in Massachusetts is one animal too many." ASPCA Senior Director of State Legislation for the Northeast Region Bill Ketzer added: "By requiring owners to inspect for abandoned animals at recently vacated or foreclosed units and immediately notify an animal control or law enforcement, needless suffering can be reduced."
There is still some way to go before the law is passed as the Massachusetts House of Representatives still needs to cast its vote, and the governor must then sign the bill. However, Holmquist is optimistic: "Passing any kind of legislation is arduous work requiring close collaboration with leaders inside and outside the State House. I'm confident that as more people learn how this bill protects vulnerable animals, it will pass the House and become law."
In the meantime, Massachusetts is considering passing laws that would make it legal for members of the public to rescue dogs from hot cars, prevent dogs and cats aged under eight weeks old from being sold, and ban breeders that have previously violated the Animal Welfare Act. Well done, Massachusetts, we salute you!