University of Vermont AAHS

Massachusetts Cruelty to Animals Statutes


MASSACHUSETTS STATUTES
PART I. ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT
TITLE II. EXECUTIVE AND ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICERS OF THE COMMONWEALTH
CHAPTER 22C. THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE POLICE


57. Agents of humane societies and associations; appointment as special officers

The colonel may appoint, at the request of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Berkshire Animal Protective Society, Inc., the Animal Rescue League of Boston, the Boston Work Horse Relief Association, the Lowell Humane Society, the Worcester Animal Rescue League or the Animal Rescue League of New Bedford, duly accredited agents of said corporations as special state police officers to serve for one year subject to removal by the colonel. Such special state police officers shall report to him relative to their official acts as such police officers at such times and in such manner as the colonel may require. They shall serve without pay, except their regular compensation as agents of said corporation. They shall receive no fees for services or return of any criminal process and shall have throughout the commonwealth the powers of constables and police officers to arrest and detain any person violating any law for the prevention of cruelty to animals.


PART I. ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT
TITLE XIX. AGRICULTURE AND CONSERVATION
CHAPTER 129. LIVESTOCK DISEASE CONTROL [ANIMAL HEALTH]


9. Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; Animal Rescue League of Boston; agents; powers and duties

The agents of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the agents of the Animal Rescue League of Boston may visit all places at which neat cattle, horses, mules, sheep, swine or other animals are delivered for transportation or are slaughtered, any pet shop where animals, birds, fish or reptiles are sold, or exhibited, or for sale, any guard dog business, any hearing dog business and any stable where horses are kept for hire or boarded for a fee, or any licensed kennel where animals are boarded for a fee or any animal dealer licensed with the United States Department of Agriculture, for the purpose of preventing violations of any law and of detecting and punishing the same and such agents shall have the power to prosecute any such violation coming to their notice. Records of inspection made under authority of this section shall be filed with the office of the division of animal health, within the department of agriculture no later than three months after such inspection. Any person who prevents, obstructs or interferes with any such agent in the performance of such duties shall be punished by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than two months, or both.


PART I. ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT
TITLE XX. PUBLIC SAFETY AND GOOD ORDER
CHAPTER 133. DISPOSITION OF OLD AND INFIRM ANIMALS


1. Application to kill old, diseased or injured animals; service of application upon owner; hearing; notice; petition for damages assessment

Any officer or agent of any society incorporated under the laws of the commonwealth for the prevention of cruelty to animals or for the care and protection of homeless or suffering animals, provided he is also a special state police officer appointed under section fifty-seven of chapter twenty-two C, or a constable, sheriff or deputy sheriff, or a police officer of any town, may take possession of any old, maimed, disabled, diseased or injured animal and apply to a district court, within whose district the animal is taken, for process to cause it to be killed humanely. If the owner is known, and can after reasonable search be found, a copy of such application shall be served upon him in hand with an order of court to appear at a time and place named to show cause why such animal should not be killed and its value determined. If he is unknown, or cannot after reasonable search be found, the court shall order notices to be posted in two public places in the town where the animal was taken, stating the facts of the case, and giving twenty-four hours' notice of a hearing on said application. At such hearing, if it appears that such animal is so old, maimed, disabled, diseased or injured as to be unfit for humane use, the court shall issue process directing any officer designated herein to kill the same humanely, and shall determine its value. If the owner is aggrieved by such determination he may petition the superior court for the assessment of his damages under chapter seventy-nine.


4. Disposition of disabled or diseased horses owned by cities or towns

Whenever any horses used in any department of any town shall, by reason of disability or disease, become unfit for use therein, the officer in charge of such department, in cities with the approval of the mayor, and in towns with the approval of the selectmen, instead of causing such horses to be sold, may transfer them to the custody of the Red Acre Farm, Incorporated, or any charitable society incorporated in the commonwealth for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or for the care and protection of dumb animals, if the society is willing to accept the custody thereof, to be disposed of as the society may deem best; provided, that the society upon receiving any such horse shall give a written agreement not to sell the horse or let the same for hire. If any horse so received shall thereafter be sold or let for hire, the proceeds of such sale or letting shall be the property of the town, and custody of the horse shall revert thereto.


PART IV. CRIMES, PUNISHMENTS AND PROCEEDINGS IN CRIMINAL CASES
TITLE I. CRIMES AND PUNISHMENTS
CHAPTER 272. CRIMES AGAINST CHASTITY, MORALITY, DECENCY AND GOOD ORDER


77. Cruelty to animals

Whoever overdrives, overloads, drives when overloaded, overworks, tortures, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance, cruelly beats, mutilates or kills an animal, or causes or procures an animal to be overdriven, overloaded, driven when overloaded, overworked, tortured, tormented, deprived of necessary sustenance, cruelly beaten, mutilated or killed; and whoever uses in a cruel or inhuman manner in a race, game, or contest, or in training therefor, as lure or bait a live animal, except an animal if used as lure or bait in fishing; and whoever, having the charge or custody of an animal, either as owner or otherwise, inflicts unnecessary cruelty upon it, or unnecessarily fails to provide it with proper food, drink, shelter, sanitary environment, or protection from the weather, and whoever, as owner, possessor, or person having the charge or custody of an animal, cruelly drives or works it when unfit for labor, or willfully abandons it, or carries it or causes it to be carried in or upon a vehicle, or otherwise, in an unnecessarily cruel or inhuman manner or in a way and manner which might endanger the animal carried thereon, or knowingly and willfully authorizes or permits it to be subjected to unnecessary torture, suffering or cruelty of any kind shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.

In addition to any other penalty provided by law, upon conviction for any violation of this section or of sections seventy-seven A, seventy-eight, seventy-eight A, seventy-nine A, seventy-nine B, eighty A, eighty B, eighty C, eighty D, eighty F, eighty-six, eighty-six A, eighty-six B or ninety-four the defendant may, after an appropriate hearing to determine the defendant's fitness for continued custody of the abused animal, be ordered to surrender or forfeit to the custody of any society, incorporated under the laws of the commonwealth for the prevention of cruelty to animals or for the care and protection of homeless or suffering animals, the animal whose treatment was the basis of such conviction.


78. Selling, leading, or using horses not fit for work; forfeiture of auctioneer's license

No person holding an auctioneer's license shall receive or offer for sale or sell at public auction, nor shall any person sell at private sale, or lead, ride or drive on any public way, for any purpose except that of conveying the horse to a proper place for its humane keeping or killing, or for medical or surgical treatment, any horse which, by reason of debility, disease or lameness, or for other cause, could not be worked in the commonwealth without violating the laws against cruelty to animals. This section shall not prohibit the purchase of horses by humane societies incorporated under the laws of the commonwealth for the purpose of humanely killing the same. Violation of this section shall be punished by a fine of not less than five nor more than one hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than six months. If a licensed auctioneer violates this section, he shall also forfeit his license.


79A. Cutting bones or muscles to dock or set tail of horse; wound as evidence
Whoever cuts the bone of the tail of a horse for the purpose of docking the tail, or whoever causes or knowingly permits the same to be done upon premises of which he is the owner, lessee, proprietor or user, or whoever assists in or is present at such cutting, shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than one year or by a fine of not less than one hundred nor more than three hundred dollars; and whoever cuts the muscles or tendons of the tail of a horse for the purpose of setting up the tail, or whoever causes or knowingly permits the same to be done upon premises of which he is the owner, lessee, proprietor or user, or whoever assists in or is present at such cutting, shall be punished by a fine of not more than two hundred and fifty dollars. If a horse is found with the bone of its tail cut as aforesaid or with the muscles or tendons of its tail cut as aforesaid, and with the wound resulting from such cutting unhealed, upon the premises or in the charge and custody of any person, such fact shall be prima facie evidence of a violation of this section by the owner or user of such premises or the person having such charge or custody, respectively.


79B. Exhibiting horse with tail cut under section 79A; affidavit as to cutting in state where not prohibited; inspection
Whoever shows or exhibits at any horse show or exhibition in the commonwealth a horse with its tail cut in either manner prohibited in section seventy-nine A shall be punished by a fine of not more than two hundred and fifty dollars; provided, that this section shall not apply to the showing or exhibiting at such a show or exhibition of a horse with its tail cut in either manner prohibited by section seventy-nine A, if the owner of such horse furnishes to the manager or other official having charge of the horse show or exhibition at which such horse is shown or exhibited an affidavit by the owner, in a form approved by the director of the division of animal health of the department of food and agriculture, that the tail of such horse was so cut in a state wherein such cutting was not then specifically prohibited by the laws thereof and while the horse was actually owned by a legal resident of such state. Said affidavit shall state the year of such cutting, the name of the state wherein the cutting was done, and the sex and age of the horse, shall describe the markings of the horse, if any, and shall be subject to inspection by any officer or agent mentioned in section eighty-four.

81. Rest, water and feed for transported animals; lien; liability for detention
Railroad corporations shall not permit animals carried or transported by them to be confined in cars longer than twenty-eight consecutive hours without unloading them for at least five consecutive hours for rest, water and feeding, unless prevented by storm or accident. In estimating such confinement, the time during which the animals have been confined without such rest on connecting roads from which they are received shall be included. Animals so unloaded shall during such rest be properly fed, watered and sheltered by the owner or person having the custody of them, or, in case of his default, by the railroad corporation transporting them, at the expense of said owner or person in custody thereof. In such case the corporation shall have a lien upon such animals for food, care and custody furnished, and shall not be liable for such detention. A corporation, owner or custodian of such animals failing to comply with this section shall be punished by a fine of not less than one hundred nor more than five hundred dollars. This section shall not apply to animals carried in cars in which they can and do have proper food, water, space and opportunity for rest.


83. Complaint, warrant and search relative to cruelty to animals
If complaint is made to a court or magistrate authorized to issue warrants in criminal cases that the complainant has reasonable cause to believe that the laws relative to cruelty to animals have been or are violated in any particular building or place, such court or magistrate, if satisfied that there is reasonable cause for such belief, shall issue a search warrant authorizing any sheriff, deputy sheriff, constable or police officer to search such building or place; but no such search shall be made after sunset, unless specially authorized by the magistrate upon satisfactory cause shown.


Reviewed by AAHS in September 2001.


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