An Act Further Regulating Municipal Animal Control
UPDATE: signed by the Governor on August 2, 2012. You can thank the Governor on the email form at the bottom of the Governor's webpage. Please thank your state legislators too (find out who represents you at www.wheredoivotema.com - look for Rep and Senator in General Court)! The law took effect 90 days after it was signed, Oct. 31, 2012. Read the law here. See below for a comparison to current law.
Summary of the new law:
The law will also create some statewide oversight for animal control, which previously did not exist in Massachusetts; create categories for kennel licensing; create consistency in the holding time for stray dogs and provide other meaningful updates to the state's antiquated animal control laws. A House amendment added some restrictions on the tethering of dogs.
This new law will not cost money, it will actually minimize costs to municipalities by reducing the number of homeless animals and the associated cost to house and take care of them. In addition, ensuring that animal control officers are trained, and improving the dangerous dog law to protect public safety, will provide indirect cost savings.
Why were these changes needed?
Many of the laws that govern animal control date back to the 1800s. Quite simply, the laws did not address the current state of animal control in our municipalities, which are no longer based on the county system. The fines are outdated, as is the term “dog officer”; “animal control officer” more accurately describes the role fulfilled. These proposed changes were made to Chapter 140, sections 136A through 174D to update and make the animal control laws more efficient, current and effective. They will also save cities and towns money. At the beginning of every legislative session, many bills are filed to address a section or issue relating to animal control. For years, organizations, individuals, and legislators have been seeking a more comprehensive revision; this law is the result of stakeholder meetings since 2005 to rework the sections in Chapter 140 relating to animals.
The Animal Control Officers Association of Massachusetts (ACOAM), the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), the Animal Rescue League of Boston, the state’s Bureau of Animal Health within the Department of Agricultural Resources and the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) worked together to draft these changes.
Sponsor: Senator Jehlen