New Bedford Democrat Mark Montigny has once again successfully stood up for vulnerable animals. Republican Governor Charlie Baker signed his bill PAWS II this week at a public ceremony in Boston.

The longtime senator has made protecting animals a top priority of his career. Another of his priorities is helping the victims of human trafficking. In both cases, he has added teeth to the laws that deal with the criminals who abuse humans and animals.

He has had to put his experience and political muscle behind both efforts. He has explained to me how difficult it has been to get people to pay attention to these two issues. You would think protecting abuse victims, human and animal, would be easy. But it isn’t, and it wouldn’t be happening if Montigny had split the Senate for a higher-paying job like so many other Massachusetts senators. He is the lobbyist for the abused in the Commonwealth.

This new bill does some important things.

It doubles the penalties for a hit and run involving a dog or a cat. It requires property owners to check their property for abandoned animals within three days of a foreclosure or a tenant moving out. This is designed to keep animals from dying a slow painful death from thirst and hunger. It also adds animal crimes to the list of offenses that a district attorney can use to request a dangerousness hearing to keep a person locked up, pending trial.

One additional and interesting item in the bill adds local animal control officers to the list of mandatory reporters of child abuse, elder abuse, and abuse of disabled people. This is a smart addition to the safety net in our society. If someone is abusing an animal, they probably aren’t too nice to kids and grandparents.

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.


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