- MGL c.186, § 30 When tenants leave a property, the owner or lessor should inspect it for abandoned animals
- MGL c.239, § 14 After property is vacated following summary process, the owner or lessor should inspect it for abandoned animals
- MGL c.244, § 41 After property is vacated following mortgage foreclosure, the owner or lessor should inspect it for abandoned animals
- MGL c.19A, § 42 Dept. of Elder Affairs reporting of animal cruelty, abuse or neglect
- MGL c.19C, § 14 Disabled Persons Protection Commission reporting of animal cruelty, abuse or neglect
- MGL c.112, § 58B Reports of suspected acts of cruelty to animals; veterinarians; immunity from liability; failure to report
- MGL c.140, § 174E Chaining or tethering; confinement
- MGL c.140, § 174F Leaving an animal in a hot or cold vehicle; removing an animal in danger from a vehicle
- MGL c.266, § 112 Maliciously killing or injuring a domestic animal
- MGL c.272, § 77 Animal cruelty
Burying a pet in your backyard
- Varies town to town. Contact your local Board of Health, or find your town's rules at Mass. city and town ordinances and bylaws
Cock fighting and dog fighting
- MGL c.272, § 88 Complaints, warrants and arrests
- MGL c.272, § 89 Police may enter exhibition place of fighting animals without a warrant and seize the animals
- MGL c.272, § 91 Court proceedings for animal fighting
- MGL c.272, § 93 Expenses of care and destruction of fighting animals
- MGL c.272, § 94 Penalty for keeping or exhibiting fighting animals
- MGL c.272, § 95 Penalty for being present at an animal fight
- MGL c.272, § 80-1/2 Surgery on a dog or cat to prevent them from making a sound
- MGL c.140, § 155 Liability of owner for dog bite
- MGL c.140 §§ 136A-175 Laws pertaining to dogs
- MGL c.131, § 23 License required to propagate or deal in wild birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians
- MGL c.131, § 77A Possessing wild dogs and cats prohibited
- MGL c.10 § 35WW Homeless animal prevention and care fund
- MGL c.62 § 6M Contribution of tax refund to Homeless Animal Prevention and Care Fund
- MGL c.131, § 65A Online shooting or spearing
- Leash laws vary from town to town. Find your town's rules at Mass. city and town ordinances and bylaws.
Leasing or renting dogs
- MGL c.272, § 80I With some unusual exceptions, you may not rent or lease a dog
Livestock health and sales
- MGL c.209A, § 11 Possession, care and control of domesticated animal owned by persons involved in certain protective orders; notice to law enforcement upon finding of imminent threat to household member or animal
Shelters; spay or neuter requirement
Trusts for the care of animals
330 CMR, Mass. Dept. of Agricultural Resources. Includes regulations about domestic animals in Massachusetts. Does not include hunting or wild or exotic animals.
- 321 CMR 2.12 Artificial propagation of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians
- 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."
Kittens and Puppies
No licensee shall ... acquire, display, offer for sale, sell or give away any dog or cat which is younger than 8 weeks old
- 330 CMR 12.05 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
Emergency Order 1-AHO-05
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."
Comm. v. J.A., a juvenile, 478 Mass. 385 (2017)
A juvenile cannot be indicted as a youthful offender based on charges of cruelty to animals and bestiality, "given that the language in G. L. c. 119, § 54, the youthful offender statute, allowing a juvenile to be tried as a youthful offender for an offense involving the infliction of "serious bodily harm," does not apply to animal as well as human victims."
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."
A dog should not be placed in the same category as an automobile or appliance...
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
Animal imports and livestock markets, Dept. of Agricultural Resources.
Summarizes import requirements for a wide variety of animals.
Buying a dog in Massachusetts, Dept. of Agricultural Resources.
Provides basic information on what you should know before buying a dog.
Buying pets , Nolo.com
What to look for, and what to know about sellers' promises and buyers' responsibilities
Dog bites and other injuries , Nolo.com
Lists commonsense steps to take to keep your dog from biting, and to avoid trouble if he does
Every Dog's Legal Guide: A Must-Have Book for Your Owner , Nolo, 2012.
A legal guide for dog owners and their neighbors which includes information on buying and selling dogs, barking dogs, dog bites and more. Requires library card for access
Flying With dogs: the not-so-friendly skies , Nolo.com
Discusses problems, options, steps to take in preparing your pet for travel, and regulations governing pet travel
Helping your clients provide for pets in estate plans , Mass. Bar Association, 2006.
Detailed information on things to consider and appropriate documents.
Orders concerning domesticated animals in conjunction with restraining ordersMemo from Chief Justice of the Trial Court and Court Administrator, October 31, 2012
Includes explanation of the law and procedures, with forms
Pet custody, Trial Court Law Libraries, February 2016.
"When two people, either married or unmarried, break up, who gets to keep the pet(s)? Can the court order joint custody of the dog or cat, as it would a child? Can one party get visitation rights? Is a pet treated in a legal sense in the same way as a child, or simply as property?"
Table of state laws concerning minimum age for sale of puppies, Animal Legal & Historical Center, Michigan State University College of Law, 2017
|Last updated:||March 6, 2020|