Massachusetts Laws

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Massachusetts Laws

St.2012, c.193 An Act Further Regulating Animal Control
Establishes the Homeless Animal Prevention and Care Fund with a voluntary check-off donation on income tax returns. Prohibits declaring a dog dangerous solely based on the breed of dog. Also regulates health certificates for dogs and cats brought into or sold in Mass, kennel licenses, nuisance and dangerous dogs, euthanasia, animal cruelty, protection for animals in domestic violence restraining orders and more. 

Animal Cruelty

St.2014, c.293 An Act Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety (PAWS Act) , "Puppy Doe" Law. Increases penalties for animal abuse, and requires veterinarians to report suspected abuse.
MGL c.140, s.174E , as amended by St.2016, c.248 Chaining or Tethering; Confinement
MGL c.140, s.174F added by St.2016, c.248, s.8 . Removing an Animal from a Hot Vehicle
MGL c.272, s.77
MGL c.266, s.112

Animal Health
MGL c.129

Animal Fighting

MGL c.272, s.88
MGL c.272, s.89
MGL c.272, s.91
MGL c.272, s.93
MGL c.272, s.94
MGL c.272, s.95

MGL c.272, s.80-1/2

Dog Bite Law
MGL c.140, s.155

MGL c.140 s. 136A-175

Exotic Pets

MGL c.131, s.77A
MGL c.131, s.23

Horses, Driving Near
MGL c. 90, s.14

Internet Hunting
MGL c.131, s.65A

Livestock Disease Control
MGL c.129, s.2

Shelters; Spay or Neuter Requirement
MGL c.140, s.139A

MGL c.140 s. 176

Trusts for the Care of Animals
MGL c.203E, s.408  

Massachusetts Regulations

330 CMR, Mass. Dept. of Agricultural Resources. Includes regulations about domestic animals in Massachusetts. Does not include hunting or wild or exotic animals.

Exotic Pets
 321 CMR 2.12 pdf format of 321 CMR 2
Artificial Propagation of Birds, Mammals, Reptiles, and Amphibians
321 CMR 9 pdf format of 321 CMR 9
Exotic Pets Exemption List
Lists "species which are exempt from the licensing provisions of MGL c. 131, § 23 . This list includes wild (i.e., non-domesticated) vertebrate animals which may be imported, sold or possessed without a permit."

Lemon Law
 330 CMR 12.05 pdf format of 330 CMR 12 page 3
Massachusetts Pet "Lemon Law." 
Provides, in part: "All licensees shall provide a substitution or a full refund of the purchase price of any dog or cat to any purchaser who: (a) within 14 calendar days of sale has the dog or cat examined by a licensed veterinarian of his or her choice, and the examination indicates the dog or cat is diseased or has a congenital disorder; and (b) presents the dog or cat, a veterinarian's written statement that the dog or cat is diseased or has a congenital disorder, and proof of sale within two business days of the date of the examination."

Importing Animals from Out of State for Shelter or Adoption pdf format of Emergency Order 1-AHO-05
Emergency Order 1-AHO-05

Court Rules

Uniform Magistrate Rules: Rule 5: Petitions for Review of Dog Orders, Mass. Trial Court.

Selected Case Law

Commonwealth v. Epifania , 80 Mass.App.Ct. 71 (2011)
Covers the history of ownership of cats and other pets in Massachusetts.

Commonwealth v. Fettes , 64 Mass.App.Ct. 917 (2005)
A dog can be a dangerous weapon. "A dangerous weapon is 'any instrument or instrumentality so constructed or so used as to be likely to produce death or great bodily harm.' ...There can be little doubt that a dog . . . used for the purpose of intimidation or attack falls within this definition."

Commonwealth v. Santiago , 452 Mass. 573 (2008)
Presence of pitbull alone is insufficient for no-knock warrant. "[T]he mere assertion that commonly known to be aggressive, would, standing alone, be insufficient to meet the probable cause standard."

Commonwealth v. Trefry , 89 Mass. App. Ct. 568 (2016)
Keeping a dog in a filthy house and yard is a violation of  G. L. c. 140, § 174E. "Subjecting a dog to cruel conditions suffices to establish a violation" of G. L. c. 140, § 174E; outside confinement or confinement in general is not an element required to convict under the statute.

Irwin v. Degtiarov , 85 Mass. App. Ct. 234 (2014)
"Reasonable veterinary costs that are reasonably incurred can be recovered by the owner of an animal injured by a dog even if such costs exceed the market value or replacement cost of the animal."

Nutt v. Florio , 75 Mass.App.Ct. 482 (2009)
Landlord's liability for bite by tenant's dog. A dog bite victim sued the landlord of the owner of the dog, a pit bull. The court stated that the pit bull is a breed "commonly known to be aggressive." "While the defendants may not be held strictly liable by virtue of Tiny's breed, knowledge of that breed and its propensities may properly be a factor to be considered in determining whether the defendants were negligent under common-law principles."

More Massachusetts Case Law
Chart of more Massachusetts case law compiled by Michigan State University College

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Last update: August 26, 2016

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