April 28, 2021
To Arizona Governor Ducey for signing Matthew’s Law to protect companion animals in rental properties.
Do you share your life with an animal? Whether your animal is a new addition to your family or an old friend, what are some of the things you do daily, monthly, or yearly to help keep your animal happy and healthy? As you go over the items in your mind, do you have a plan to ensure your animal is cared for in an emergency? For instance, does your animal require daily medication for their well-being? What would happen if you couldn’t make it home? Do you have someone who can check on them, like a neighbor, a relative, or a pet sitter? Having these measures in place beforehand will give you peace of mind and help protect your animal.
If you are one of the 36% of Americans who rent and have an animal, part of providing for their well-being is giving your landlord the names of individuals allowed to access your rental in the event you cannot. According to a news article, House Bill 2507, also known as Matthew’s Law, was signed by Arizona Governor Ducey at the beginning of April 2021 to protect animals left in rental properties upon their owners’ death or debilitating illness. Sadly, House Bill 2507 was introduced by Representative Shawnna Bolick (R-District 20) in the wake of the tragic death of Matthew Meisner. Matthew lived with three beloved senior felines, one of whom was diabetic. Upon Matthew’s death, his family could not get his cats because animals are deemed “property” under the law and can only be released after 14 days. Thankfully, Matthew’s cats have been nursed back to health because of his family’s perseverance and advocating for the law to be changed.
Under the new law, A.R.S. § 33-1370(E) states that “…At the landlord’s discretion, the tenant’s abandoned animals may be immediately removed and released to a shelter or boarding facility. The landlord shall keep a record of the name and location of the shelter or boarding facility to which the animal was released. If the landlord does not immediately remove and release the abandoned animals to a shelter or boarding facility, the landlord shall provide reasonable care for the abandoned animals for the period prescribed by subsection F of this section. If the landlord is unable or unwilling to provide reasonable care to the abandoned animals, the landlord shall notify the county enforcement agent as defined in section 11-1001 or an animal control officer as prescribed in section 9-499.04 of the presence of the tenant’s abandoned animals on the property to be seized pursuant to section 13-4281. The landlord is not liable for any actions taken in good faith related to the removal, release, seizure or care of the abandoned animals pursuant to this section.”
Take Action: Arizona residents, please thank Governor Ducey for signing Matthew’s Law to better protect animals in rental properties. Other residents, please help ensure the safety of your animal by being prepared for an emergency. If you rent, make sure your landlord has current contact information for your emergency contacts.