- 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
- MGL c.272, § 80E Death by decompression chamber
- MGL c.272, § 80E 1/2 Death by drowning
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, searches, 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 §§ 136A-174F Laws pertaining to dogs
MGL v.131A §§ 1-7 MA Endangered Species Act
- 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
MGL c.90 § 22H Safe transportation of animals
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(5) Massachusetts pet "lemon law."
Provides, in part:
“Each Class A Licensee shall provide a full refund of the purchase price of a dog or cat, or if the Licensee and the customer both consent, a substitution Animal, to any customer who:
(a) Within 14 calendar days of the Sale, has the dog or cat examined by a Veterinarian of the customer's choice, and the examination indicates the dog or cat is diseased or has a congenital disorder; and
(b) Presents the dog or cat to the Licensee within three days of the date of the examination, with a Veterinarian's written statement that the dog or cat is diseased or has a congenital disorder, and proof of Sale.”
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.
Creatini v. McHugh, 99 Mass. App. Ct. 126 (2021)
A landlord does not bear responsibility to a passerby in the street for injuries caused by a tenant's dog after the dog leaves the landlord's property.
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, MA Dept. of Agricultural Resources.
Summarizes import requirements for a wide variety of animals.
Buying a dog in Massachusetts, MA 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 pets and service animals: the not-so-friendly skies, Nolo.com
Discusses problems, options, steps to take in preparing your pet for travel, regulations governing pet travel, and rules on emotional support animals.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs), Animal Legal & Historical Center, Michigan State University College of Law, 2021.
Provides answers to questions on animals and pets.
Helping your clients provide for pets in estate plans , Mass. Bar Association, 2006.
Detailed information on things to consider and appropriate documents.
Importing and exporting livestock, MA Dept. of Agricultural Resources.
Summarizes import requirements for cattle, swine, sheep, goats, horses, and lamas and other domesticated livestock.
Importing and exporting pets, MA Dept. of Agricultural Resources.
Summarizes import requirements for dogs, cat, rabbits and birds.
Neighbor law: fences, trees, boundaries & noise, Nolo, 2020. Chapter 17: Other Common Neighbor Issues.
Discusses animal problems: noise, leash laws, pooper-scooper laws; number of animals; types of animals; and licenses and special permits. Requires library card for access.
Orders concerning domesticated animals in conjunction with restraining orders Memo 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, 2020.
Animal control law and procedure in Massachusetts, Commonwealth Police Service, Inc., 2017.
Animal law, Jonathan S. Rankin, et al., MCLE, 2009
Animal law in a nutshell, 3rd ed., West Academic Publishing, 2021.
Blair, Keshia L. “Criminal law--must love dogs: Zach and Kenji's escape from confinement and the broader context of animal cruelty--Commonwealth v. Trefry, 51 N.E.3d 502 (Mass. App. Ct. 2016)” (89 Mass. App. Ct. 568 (2016)) v. 22 Suffolk Journal of Trial & Appellate Advocacy 402 (2016-2017).
Harris, Susan. "Woof, woof, we're getting a divorce" : pet custody and the law. v. 30 Issue 3 Massachusetts family law journal 30 (May/June 2012)
- vol. 2A (Family law and practice : with forms) 4th ed. Thomson Reuters, 2013 with supplement. Section 56:25 Pets.
- vol. 10A (Procedural forms annotated) 6th ed. West, 2009 with supplement. Sections 42:13-42:19 Complaints-Animals.
- vol. 12 (Motor vehicle law and practice : with forms) 5th ed. Thomson Reuters, 2021. Section 17.99 Offenses involving animals and motor vehicles.
- vol. 14-14E (Summary of basic law) 5th ed. Thomson Reuters, 2014 with supplement. Section 8:288 Abuse Prevention Act-Pets owned by people; Section 12:56.50 Execution-Inspection of property for presence of abandoned animals; Section 14:185 Inspection for abandoned animals; Section 16:203 Wild animals-Generally; Section 16:204 Limitations on liability; Section 16:205 Domestic animals-Generally; 16:206 Massachusetts dog-injury statute-Strict liability; 16:207 --Exception to liability; 16:208 -- Damages.
- vol. 17A-17B (Prima facie case : proof and defense) 5th ed. West Pub., 2005 with supplement. Chapter 45 - Damage or injury caused by animals; Section 53.18.50 Animal cruelty; Section 59.159 Dog bite-Child under seven.
- vol. 18A (Municipal law and practice) 5th ed. Thomson/West, 2006 with supplement. Section 16.11 Animals.
- vol. 22 (Probate law and practice : with forms) 3rd ed. Thomson Reuters, 2019 with supplement. Section 37:15 Trusts for the care of animals.
- vol. 32 (Criminal law) 3rd ed. West Group, 2001 with supplement. Section 531 Crimes against animals.
Motor vehicle Massachusetts police manual 2021 : the Massachusetts police reference for motor vehicle law, John Sofis Scheft, Law Enforcement Dimensions, 2021. Chapter 22 Animal protection & safe transport. Overview of animal laws.
Pet law and custody : establishing a worthy and equitable jurisprudence for the evolving family, American Bar Association, Family Law Section, 2017.
The law of trusts and trustees : a treatise covering the law relating to trusts and allied subjects affecting trust creation and administration, with forms, Rev. 2d ed. West Pub. Co., 1977 with supplement. Section 1206 Pet trust – Uniform Probate Code Section 2-907.
|Last updated:||August 3, 2021|