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Stronger animal welfare bill in Massachusetts passes in honor of Puppy Doe

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The Massachusetts State House and Senate passed S2345 on Thursday, which now provides more protection for animals and increases animal cruelty penalties announced the Animal Rescue League of Boston. The legislation takes effect 90 days after it is signed by Governor Patrick.

S. 2345 (formerly called H.4328/ H.4244) increases maximum penalties for animal abuse from five years to seven years in prison and increases fines from $2,500 to $5,000.

In addition, the bill requires veterinarians to report suspected animal abuse. Also included in the new law is the creation of a task force made up of experts in law enforcement, animal protection, veterinary medicine and the law to evaluate and suggest updates to the state’s cruelty statutes.

State Rep. Bruce Ayers of Quincy, states the new legislation is an important step in preventing animal abuse:

“Today is a great day on Beacon Hill. The fact of the matter was that the laws in Massachusetts were not strong enough to prevent animal abuse. My intention in filing the original version of this legislation in January of 2013, was because Massachusetts maintained some of the most lenient fines in the nation."

After the nationally known case of Puppy Doe, an egregious case of torture to a young dog discovered in Quincy last year, the push became even more apparent to legislate for stricter laws.

On August 31, 2013, "Puppy Doe" was found near a quiet park and brought to the Quincy shelter by a Good Samaritan. The dog was so severely injured, she was transferred to the Animal Rescue League of Boston where an examination and x-rays revealed the two-year-old pit bull had been suffering from starvation, a stab wound in her right eye, punctures on the sides of her nose, skull fractures, fractures to her spine, front, back, shoulder and rib injuries, and a deliberate cut into her tongue to give it the appearance of a serpent's tongue.

The dog's injuries were so severe that she was humanely euthanized. A necropsy revealed the extremely painful injuries had been inflicted upon "Puppy Doe" within the last few weeks of her life.

Everyone who came in contact with Puppy Doe felt an immediate emotional attachment; her story broke the hearts of millions. Kara Holmquist, the director of advocacy for the MSPCA-Angell stated:

“We’re very pleased that this crucial legislation has passed, and we extend our thanks to Representatives Louis Kafka and Bruce Ayers, and Senator Bruce Tarr who championed these reforms in the legislature. We also thank every caring citizen who contacted state legislators to urge for stronger laws to punish animal abusers, and most importantly, to work to prevent cruelty from happening in the first place. Animal lovers around the state can today celebrate these efforts and hopefully find some peace knowing that from such tragic incidents, like Puppy Doe and others, awareness has been generated that will now prevent harm to other helpless animals.”

Radoslaw Czerkawski, 32, has been charged with 11 counts of animal cruelty and misleading authorities by giving false information. He has also been charged with stealing checks from a New Bedford church. In February, Czerkawski was back in court and charged with stealing $130,000 in savings bonds from an elderly woman he was caring for.

Czerkawski remains in jail with no option of bond for the animal cruelty charges and additional bail requirements for the other charges.

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