Have any communities passed bylaws banning vicious dogs?
January 30, 2002
A: No community bans dogs by breed or for vicious behavior, though in 1999 the town of Ipswich amended its bylaws to include a subsection concerning “potentially dangerous dogs,” and the communities of Belmont, Mendon and Saugus are awaiting the attorney general’s approval of articles passed by town meeting last spring concerning dangerous or vicious dogs.
The Ipswich bylaw defines a “potentially dangerous dog,” details the steps of complaint, investigation, notification and appeal, and explains exemptions, such as a dog owned by a law enforcement agency.
A local option statute (M.G.L. Ch. 140, Sect. 147A) empowers any city or town that accepts it “to enact bylaws and ordinances relative to the regulation of dogs.” According to the attorney general’s office, if a community does not adopt Chapter 140, Section 147A, then any bylaws relating to the regulation of dogs must comply with all the provisions of Chapter 140, Sections 136A-175.