Reported in the Patriot Ledger a six-year-old Labrador mix was successful in getting protection pursuant to the newly enacted amendment to protective orders, heretofore the protection of individuals under Mass. General Laws, Chapter 209A. The amendment to the law is intended to protect household pets from abuse. Therefore, a party who is seeking a restraining order against a home partner can also seek an order of protection for the pet owned by the petitioning party. The Labrador who first obtained the benefit of the amended statute is named Panzer and is currently in foster care until the owner finds a safe environment. In the past, Panzer had been brutalized by the offending party, and the pre amendment law provided protection to a petitioning party and other occupants, including children, but not to pets. This is an important step, taking away from the batterer another form of cruelty that can be meted out on the victim.
The enactment and successful application of the new law should be applauded. In a press conference following Governor Deval Patrick’s signing of this amendment into law, the characters of Peanuts had a heated discussion. Woodstock, that fabled yellow aviary, stated that the new law also pertains to all pets and not just dogs. Snoopy, appearing with his counsel, Linus, read from a statement that the intended protected pets were dogs, period. Hopefully, this impasse will be surmounted before this question is posed for decision in our Appeals Court.