Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law a bill increasing the prison time and fines for committing animal abuse.
The measure -- Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety (PAWS) Act -- increases the fine for a first offense from a maximum of $2,500 to a maximum of $10,000 while raising the maximum prison sentence for a first offense from five years to seven years.
The measure also requires veterinarians to report suspected animal abuse and creates a special taskforce of experts to review methods to prevent animal abuse and punish those who commit it.
Supporters say the bill was filed in response to the "Puppy Doe" case in 2013 in which a dog was euthanized after she suffered extensive injuries, including a stab wound to her eye and burns to her body. She was left to die in a Quincy park. Eventually, a 32-year-old illegal immigrant from Poland was arrested in the case.
Bill supporters argued that it is time to increase the punishment and fine for these offenders.
"The injuries cataloged in the post-mortem examination are grotesque and indicate consistent starvation and abuse over an extended period of time," said Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey, as quoted by the Animal Rescue League of Boston. "It is highly unlikely that this level of sadistic cruelty could be shown to one animal and not be part of a pattern involving other animals or perhaps vulnerable people. We need to find the person who did this and see what else they are doing.
"Words cannot adequately describe the shocking suffering that Puppy Doe endured or capture the urgency in identifying who did this to her," said Mary Nee, president of the ARL.
Animal advocacy organizations generally support the increased penalties.
Some of these groups, however, say the bill was severely weakened by removing provisions that would have created an animal abuse hotline and a registry to prevent known abusers from adopting or buying an animal.
They question whether abusers take the animals they've harmed to veterinarians who can then report the abuse.
Of course they don't.
While we support the measures in this bill, we do not support its omissions.
An animal abuse hotline and a registry of known abusers would help to complete a bill that seems half-hearted in its approach to truly protecting animals.