This week animal advocates are celebrating a bittersweet victory with a new law intended to crack down on animal cruelty in Massachusetts following a case involving a dog who who made headlines after suffering unspeakable torture and later became known as Puppy Doe.
Care2′s Susan Bird covered the heartbreaking story about the pit bull puppy who was once known as Kiya last summer. When Kiya’s owner’s landlord decided the pit bull pup wasn’t welcome, her owner took to Craigslist to find her a new home. Her new home abandoned her too and she ended up in the hands of a monster who systematically tortured her for months. She was burned, stabbed, had her limbs stretched until her joints ripped apart, had her tongue sliced like a snake and starved. The ruthless treatment ultimately left a broken dog in such terrible shape that she couldn’t be saved and had to be euthanized.
The case not only raised awareness about the problems with posting animals on Craigslist, but also prompted calls for tougher laws to punish abusers amidst vigils and offers for rewards for information leading to the arrest of her abuser.
This week, Governor Patrick Deval signed the Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety (PAWS) Act, otherwise known as the “Puppy Doe Law,” which brings a number of changes that will toughen animal cruelty laws in Massachusetts.
The new law, drafted by Rep. Bruce Ayers and Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, will increase fines and jail time, raising the maximum sentence for a first offense to seven years in jail from five, while subsequent offenses will now carry a penalty of up to 10 years. Fines will also increase to $5,000 from $2,500 for a first offense and up to $10,000 for subsequent offenses.
It will also require veterinarians to report animal abuse to authorities. If they don’t they’ll also be subjected to a fine and will be reported to the Board of Registration in Veterinary Medicine. Additionally, it will create a task force to look into future protections for animals by considering ways to reduce abuse and strengthen the state’s cruelty laws, along with considering whether to implement an animal abuser registry.
“The signing of the PAWS Act represents a victory for everyone who cares about animals in our state, and those who have worked tirelessly to champion this legislation. Now we have stronger penalties and a clear message that if you abuse an animal there will be serious consequences,” said Tarr in a statement.
“Puppy Doe and others have suffered from unthinkable brutality that never should have happened. Yet now, motivated by those cases, we have taken strong and continuing steps to prevent it from happening again.”
The new law follows another move that will help animals: the Supreme Court ruling that will allow law enforcement to enter private property without a warrant to help an animal in distress.
The man responsible for Puppy Doe’s nightmare, Radoslaw Czerkawski, was caught by authorities and is scheduled for trial in February. He’s facing charges for both animal cruelty and larceny, the latter of which stems from allegations that he stole money from a 95-year-old woman with dementia he was caring for.
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