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Massachusetts Law About Animals

Massachusetts Laws


Animal Cruelty:

Animal Health: MGL c.129

Animal Fighting:

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

Dog Bite Law: MGL c.140, s.155.

Dogs: MGL c.140 s. 136A-175.

Exotic Pets:

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.

Stallions: MGL c.140 s. 176.

Trusts for the Care of Animals

Massachusetts Regulations

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

Exotic Pets:

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, ยง 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 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.

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."

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 pitt 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.

Other Web Resources

Buying Pets, What to look for, and what to know about sellers' promises and buyers' responsibilities.

Dog Bites and Other Injuries, Lists commonsense steps to take to keep your dog from biting, and to avoid trouble if he does.

Dog Laws 101: How to Find Out the Laws and Regulations in Your Community, An article dealing with moving your dog to Massachusetts, or to a new town/city in Massachusetts and how to find out what the laws in that community might be.

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, Discusses problems, options, steps to take in preparing your pet for travel, and regulations governing pet travel.

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.

Preventing Conflicts with Beavers, Mass. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. How to prevent beaver problems, and what to do if you have them.

Wildlife as Pets, Mass. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Summary of Mass. laws pertaining to keeping wild or exotic pets.

Print Sources

Animal Law, Jonathan S. Rankin, et al., MCLE, 2009.

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)