PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – After losing her cousin in a horrific murder, Meg Epstein struggled to get into his apartment to save his beloved pets.
Because of the law, friends and family weren’t able to get them.
She’s now helped an Arizona lawmaker draft a bill, HB 2507, making it easier to rescue animals after their loved one dies or is incapacitated.
“It’s a horrible, tragic story,” Epstein said, remembering her cousin, Matthew Meisner’s death.
Epstein hopes her Tempe cousin’s heartbreaking death becomes the saving grace for animals across Arizona.
Last summer, police said two teenagers killed Meisner when he was out walking.
“There’s enough evidence of an ongoing, repeated behavior of destruction or violence.”
“To rub salt into the wound, we couldn’t get his cats that were in his apartment,” said Epstein.
She said the reason all came down to the landlord and legalities.
“They were doing the right thing and following the law, and animals fall under personal property, and they’re not to touch personal property up to 15 days,” said Epstein.
Meisner’s three cats went without food and water for days before they got out of his apartment and into the hands of a rescue.
“She pulled out one of them, and he was almost dead,” said Epstein.
She doesn’t live in Arizona, but she called a lawmaker here, asking her to find a way to save pets after their owners die.
Family remembers Tempe man shot and killed while walking
State Rep. Shawnna Bolick introduced “Matthew’s Law” last month.
“Right now, they treat pets as property, so we’re going to go in and define exactly what needed to be done, designating pets as live animals, will help satisfy a lot of those requirements,” said Bolick.
“The only reason I think a landlord or a homeowner that’s renting the house might be potentially opposed to this is their potential liability for entering the house,” said Ken Peace, an attorney with Resnick and Louis.
Epstein says the bill removes liability from landlords, letting them give animals to relatives.
“If it’s my last breath, this will happen,” said Epstein,
The bill passed in committee on Tuesday.
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