dog and cat

Animal Possession Ban (Massachusetts)

Massachusetts Bill: H.3772

Possession bans are one of the most effective ways to ensure a person convicted of animal cruelty does not reoffend. These laws restrict an abuser’s access to animals, drastically limiting the pool of potential victims. Possession bans also help stem the high rates of recidivism associated with certain types of animal abuse.

An Act relative to protecting animals from abusers, H.3772, sponsored by Representative Tram T. Nguyen, prohibits people convicted of animal cruelty (including torture, mutilation, and dogfighting) from possessing, adopting, or fostering animals for at least five years after their release from custody.

Current Massachusetts law prohibits convicted animal abusers from working with animals. However, it only explicitly allows courts to prohibit ownership or contact with animals after a conviction of animal sexual abuse.

H.3772 addresses this gap by extending the existing prohibition to other animal cruelty convictions. This would prevent a person convicted of animal cruelty from possessing or exercising control over animals for at least five years. Courts would have the discretion to consider each case individually and extend the possession ban for any greater length of time deemed reasonable to protect animals.

By helping prevent future cruelty to animals, possession bans help save local agencies and shelters resources (large-scale cruelty cases can cost hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars during lengthy trials). They also offer law enforcement officials an additional tool to monitor and quickly intervene to protect at-risk animals and prevent animal abuse in their communities.

Learn more about possession bans.