There’s an old expression: Be the person your mom and dog think you are. No one loves us as unconditionally as our moms or our pets. Our pets are family and the law has begun to recognize that to a greater extent.

Every state in the union now bans animal cruelty. Just a few weeks ago, President Trump signed the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act providing substantial punishments — including up to seven years imprisonment — for those who abuse animals. This federal ban criminalizes animal abuse, animal fighting, making and sharing videos that show that kind of abuse, and makes it easier to prosecute cases that span different jurisdictions. But for those who care about animal protection, still more needs to be done.

A new law in Pennsylvania known as Libre’s Law makes it illegal to leave your dog outside when it’s too cold or too hot. Massachusetts enacted similar legislation a few years ago, prohibiting leaving pets outside or confining them in motor vehicles during extreme weather. Since morality, kindness and common sense cannot be legislated, other states need to do the same to protect pets from ignorant and heartless owners.

Following the path of Alaska, California and Illinois, our neighbor to the north — New Hampshire — recently passed a law involving the “custody” of a divorcing couple’s pets. This law requires the court to determine the care and well-being of the parties’ animals. Like the “best interest of the child” standard used in child custody matters, this law recognizes that some of us are far better caretakers than others and that pets are not inanimate objects, but rather living sentient creatures. Hopefully others will follow suit. Our pets are family members and it is time to do what is best for them.

What remains urgent is the enactment of the Beagle Freedom Bill. Of all the dogs used for research purposes, the breed that overwhelmingly tops the list are beagles. The reason beagles are used so extensively is due to their size and disposition. In an act of ultimate betrayal, their trust, loyalty and sweetness make them ideal laboratory experimentation subjects. The Beagle Freedom Bill provides for adoption instead of euthanasia of beagles and other healthy animals after laboratory experimentation. A few states have laws that provide for adoption and a safe home after completing such selfless service to society in a laboratory without ever having seen the sun or light of day. Many, many more need to act, including Massachusetts, which often leads the way on animal protection issues through the leadership of state Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester.

Contact your state representatives today and ask them to support the Beagle Bill. Let’s win one for our pets; they deserve it.

Original Article: Boston Herald