Governor Ducey Signs “Matthew’s Law” To Protect Pets, Families

News Release

April 1, 2021

PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey today signed legislation that allows landlords to safely move a tenant’s pet to a shelter or release the pet to a relative if the tenant is deceased or incapacitated and can no longer care for the animal. 

House Bill 2507, also known as “Matthew’s Law,” is in honor of Matthew Meisner, who tragically lost his life last year after being shot. After his death, Matthew’s loved ones were unable to access his apartment to rescue his cats for days because they were considered personal property and couldn’t be touched by the landlord for a certain amount of time following Matthew’s death.

“Family members should be able to protect a loved one’s pet after a tragic event,” said Governor Ducey. “Today’s legislation protects pets and families, and I’m hopeful no one else has to face what Matthew’s family experienced after he was taken far too soon. I’m grateful to Representative Shawnna Bolick for leading on this important issue.” 

Matthew’s Law, introduced by Representative Bolick, addresses the issue Matthew’s family faced by allowing a landlord to release an animal to a relative of a deceased or incapacitated tenant. It also allows a landlord to deem an animal abandoned and remove the animal to an animal shelter or boarding facility if the landlord is unable to contact the authorized person or the authorized person fails to respond within one day after the initial written contact.

“We need to ensure pets are protected after their owner dies,” said Representative Bolick. “Matthew’s family suffered the unimaginable when he died. To make matters worse, they couldn’t protect his pets in the days following. I was proud to work with them on legislation that protects the animals in this situation, and I’m relieved no other Arizona family will face this issue in the future. Thank you to Governor Ducey for supporting Matthew’s Law.” 

Meg Epstein, Matthew’s cousin, worked with Representative Bolick on the legislation. 

“I was proud to work with Representative Bolick on Matthew’s Law,” said Epstein. “My cousin was a wonderful person, and I wish we could have rescued his cats in a reasonable time after he died. Thanks to this new law, other families can act quickly to protect a loved one’s pet or service animal if their loved one dies or becomes incapacitated. Thank you to Representative Bolick, Governor Ducey and the citizens of Arizona for supporting such important legislation. The passing of Matthew's Law proves the American Spirit is alive and well, and the legislative system does work.”

Community organizations such as the Animal Defense League of Arizona, Arizona Association of Realtors, Arizona Multihousing Association, Humane Voters of Arizona, Humane Society of the United states, and the Arizona Humane Society supported the legislation.