Massachusetts State Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford) recently introduced a bill that would allow private individuals to file a lawsuit for the “protection and humane treatment of animals.” This is of great concern for all sportsmen, farmers, and dog owners.
Animal cruelty is already a crime in Massachusetts just as it is across the country. Animal cruelty laws are enforced by experienced law enforcement officers, including local police forces and animal control officers, who are trained on what is and is not animal cruelty under the law and how to spot it.
Senate Bill 767 would end this proven system and instead give private citizens the ability to sue animal owners over what they perceive to be “animal cruelty” under the law.
“Under this bill, animal rights activists would be able to sue anyone – including sportsmen, farmers, and dog owners – whenever and wherever they think animal cruelty is being committed,” said Evan Heusinkveld, USSA’s Director of Government Affairs. “This could force sportsmen and women who have done nothing wrong to spend thousands of dollars to defend themselves against animal rights zealots looking to take them to court.”
For example, if an animal rights activist thinks common dog training practices—such as using a shock collar or tethering—are inhumane, they would now be able to sue the sporting dog owner or trainer claiming animal cruelty. Likewise, an activist that disapproves of certain farming practices could sue farmers for the practices they consider cruel. Even if a judge ultimately throws out the case, the animal’s owner will likely have had to spend a good deal of money and time fighting the bogus lawsuit.
“Enforcement of animal cruelty laws should be left in the hands of trained law enforcement officers and not be given to animal rights activists to harass law-abiding animal owners and private citizens,” said Heusinkveld.
Massachusetts sportsmen and dog owners should contact their state senators and tell them to oppose this dangerous bill. Use USSA’s Legislative Action Center to find your state senator’s contact information.