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The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 85: Department employees reporting animal cruelty, abuse or neglect; immunity from liability

Section 85. (a) During any investigation or evaluation reported under section 51A, any employee of the department or person employed pursuant to a contract with the department, when acting in his professional capacity or within the scope of his or her employment, who has knowledge of or observes an animal whom he knows or reasonably suspects has been the victim of animal cruelty, abuse or neglect, may report the known or suspected animal cruelty, abuse or neglect to a police officer or a special state police officer appointed pursuant to section 57 of chapter 22C.

(b) The report may be made within 2 working days of receiving the information concerning the animal, by facsimile transmission or a written report or by telephone. In cases where an immediate response may be necessary in order to protect the health and safety of the animal, the report should be made by telephone as soon as possible.

(c) When 2 or more employees of the department are present and jointly have knowledge of known or reasonably suspected animal cruelty, abuse or neglect, and where there is agreement among them, a report may be made by 1 person by mutual agreement. Any reporter who has knowledge that the person designated to report has failed to do so may thereafter make the report.

(d) No person making such report shall be liable in any civil or criminal action by reason of such report if it was made in good faith. Any privilege established by sections 135A and 135B of chapter 112 or by section 20B of chapter 233, relating to confidential communications, shall not prohibit the filing of a report pursuant to this section.

(e) Nothing in this section shall impose a duty on the department to investigate known or reasonably suspected animal cruelty, abuse or neglect.

(f) Nothing in this section shall prevent the department, area office or subdivision from entering into an agreement, contract or memorandum of understanding with the entities that investigate reports of animal cruelty, abuse or neglect as described in section 57 of chapter 22C, to require such reports or to engage in training in identification and reporting of animal abuse, cruelty and neglect.