Cahill: Flawed system pits cost vs animal cruelty

State leans on non-profits to deal with many animal cruelty cases

By Bruce Burdett
Posted 1/22/20

During his Westport visit last week, Michael Cahill, director of the animal health program at the Mass. Department of Agricultural Resources, said he sees serious problems with the way animal cruelty …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Not a subscriber?


Start a Subscription

Sign up to start a subscription today! Click here to see your options.

Purchase a day pass

Purchase 24 hours of website access for $2. Click here to continue

Day pass subscribers

Are you a day pass subscriber who needs to log in? Click here to continue.


Cahill: Flawed system pits cost vs animal cruelty

State leans on non-profits to deal with many animal cruelty cases

Posted

During his Westport visit last week, Michael Cahill, director of the animal health program at the Mass. Department of Agricultural Resources, said he sees serious problems with the way animal cruelty situations are pursued in Massachusetts, particularly regarding farm animals.

His department has no authority over animal cruelty, he said, since it deals with civil matters and animal cruelty is a criminal matter handled by local and state police and the non-profit Animal Rescue League and MSPCA, both of which have enforcement powers regarding animal cruelty.

“If what we are really dealing with is evidence of animal cruelty, we have to pass it off to law enforcement,” Mr. Cahill said.

“The fact is we frequently have disagreements with our friends and colleagues at MSPCA and Animal Rescue League as to what might be deemed animal cruelty.

“I find it problematic that, in essence, this law enforcement, not just the authority but responsibility, has sort of been outsourced to these non-profit organizations.

“Their budgets are based solely on donations — dealing with some of these animal cruelty cases is incredibly expensive. They’ll take that into account when they decide whether to take a case and I think that is absolutely wrong because either the law has been violated or it hasn’t. There shouldn’t be a calculation based on what it’s going to cost to prosecute …

“It is clear to me that neither of these organizations will deal with cases involving livestock because their donor base doesn’t want to see any animal euthanized and they don’t have any way to adopt these animals out.”

In the Westport cruelty case, for instance, millions was spent finding long-term homes for a thousand abused farm animals, he said, rather than send them to slaughter.

“The system is not set up very well to deal with these situations.”

2020 by East Bay Newspapers

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
Meet our staff
Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.