The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : New Proposed Law, S. 2174: Would Require Landlords to Check Vacated Apartments to Make Sure No Pets Have Been Left Behind

Sunday, July 10, 2016

New Proposed Law, S. 2174: Would Require Landlords to Check Vacated Apartments to Make Sure No Pets Have Been Left Behind

Phantom the Labrador’s owners left him behind in their apartment when they moved out.

The 2-year-old dog wasn’t discovered until months later, when neighbors complained about a foul smell emanating from the now-vacant space. That’s when Phantom’s body was found.

This horror took place in Hudson, Massachusetts, in 2011. Half a decade later Phantom’s legacy may be a first-of-its-kind law that helps prevent other animals from suffering this same dreadful fate.

This proposed law — S. 2174, which was written by Senator James Eldridge and passed the Massachusetts Senate— would require landlords to check on a vacated property to make sure no pets have been left behind within three days of a tenant getting out.

This applies to foreclosed properties, or those that are empty for any other reason — even if the tenant has just taken off, which the landlords knows (or should have known) about.

If there are animals discovered during the inspection, the landlord (or agent of the landlord) must contact animal control or the police.

It’s that simple. And advocates hope it will come into law and be very effective. Says Kara Holmquist, director of advocacy for the MSPCA-Angell:

One animal who dies of dehydration or starvation in an abandoned property in Massachusetts is one animal too many.

Under California law, landlords must let animal control know if they find an animal left behind in a property. Massachusetts would be the first state to tell landlords they have an affirmative obligation to go check for these animals.

It’s an important tool in saving lives, says  Bill Ketzer, the ASPCA’s senior director of state legislation for the Northeast region.

“By requiring owners to inspect for abandoned animals at recently vacated or foreclosed units and immediately notify an animal control or law enforcement, needless suffering can be reduced,” he said to BarkPost.


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