Bourne Places Animal Abuse Article On Town Meeting Warrant

Voters will be asked to make a change to the town’s ordinance regarding animal cruelty.

Bourne Police Chief Dennis R. Woodside, an ex-officio member of the town’s bylaw committee, suggested to the members that they should consider replacing the $50 fine that town bylaw calls for with the stricter punishment that state law allows. That change is the basis of Article 21 on the warrant for next month’s Annual Town Meeting.

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“We are not for cruelty to animals, and we feel that making it a felony, as the state does, is more appropriate,” Chief Woodside said.

The last sentence of the town bylaw governing the licensing and control of dogs, states that “any violation of the provisions of this section shall be subject to a fine of $50 for each offense.”

The chief said that the fine diminishes the seriousness of the offense.

Article 21 asks to have the last sentence amended by replacing it with the language contained in state law. Under state law, people convicted of cruelty to animals are subject to “imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 5 years or imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 2 1/2 years or by a fine of not more than $2,500, or by both such fine and imprisonment.”

“We feel that Massachusetts General Law is more appropriate,” he said.

The chief said that there has not been an uptick lately in animal cruelty cases. The suggested change simply came up during a regular, periodic review of the bylaws. He said that his aim was to make sure that the courts take the offense more seriously.

“If you have a state statute that is directly on point, that is what you go with,” he said.

During Monday night’s Bourne Finance Committee meeting, member Judith W. Conron read Article 21 to committee members for discussion and a vote of its approval. Ms. Conron mentioned that the state law includes other restrictions for a person convicted of animal cruelty, including not being allowed to work around animals.

A motion to approve Article 21 was made, voted on and carried unanimously by the finance committee.

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