ANIMAL CONTROL BYLAW
PREAMBLE/PURPOSE: The acceptance of this bylaw under the provisions of Massachusetts
General Laws Chapter 140 §§ 136A through l 74E shall signify acceptance of the provision of
1.) The purpose of this bylaw is to achieve the objectives of the animal control
enabling legislation contained in Chapter 140 §§ l 36A through l 74E of the
Massachusetts General Laws, which includes the regulation of domesticated
animals within the borders of the Town of Rutland, Massachusetts, the licensing
of dogs, and the establishment of fines for violation of this bylaw.
2.) This bylaw is adopted for the above purposes under the authority provided by, and
in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 140 §§ l 36A through l 74E of the
General Law, as amended.
SECTION 1 - DEFINITIONS
For purposes of this bylaw only, the following definitions shall apply:
A. "Animal Control Officer" ("ACO") - any person or persons designated by the Board of
Selectmen to enforce this bylaw
B. "Dog" - any animal of domestic canine species
C. "Dangerous Dog" - any dog so designated by the Board of Selectmen or the appropriate
governing body of another municipality
D. "Domestic Animal" - any dog, cat, or ferret
E. "Kennel" - a pack or collection of five (5) or more dogs, six (6) months of age or older, which
are kept on a single premises
1. Personal Kennel - a pack or collection of five (5) or more dogs kept on a single premises
for private personal use
2. Commercial Breeder Kennel - an establishment, other than a personal kennel, engaged in
the business of breeding animals for sale or exchange to wholesalers, brokers or pet shops
in return for consideration
3. Veterinary Kennel - a veterinary hospital or clinic that boards dogs for reasons in addition
to medical treatment or care; provided, however, that "veterinary kennel" shall not
include a hospital or clinic used solely to house dogs that have undergone veterinary
treatment or observation or will do so only for the period of time necessary to accomplish
that veterinary care
4. Domestic Charitable Corporation Kennel - a facility operated, owned or maintained by a
domestic charitable corporation registered with the Department of Agriculture or an
animal welfare society or other nonprofit organization incorporated for the purpose of
providing for and promoting the welfare, protection and humane treatment of animals,
including a veterinary hospital or clinic operated by a licensed veterinarian, which
operates consistent with such purposes while providing veterinary treatment and care
5 Commercial Boarding or Training Kennel - an establishment used for boarding, holding,
day care, overnight stays or training of animals that are not the property of the owner of
the establishment, at which such services are rendered in exchange for consideration and
in the absence of the owner of any such animal
F. "Owner" or "Keeper" - any person(s), firm, farm, corporation, or organization, owning,
keeping, harboring, or having interest in or care, custody, or control of one (1) or more dogs
or domestic animals.
G. "Public Nuisance"- any dog shall be deemed a public nuisance if:
1. such dog is free of restraint and permitted on public or private property other than that
belonging to the owner/keeper or others' private property who has knowledge and has
expressed permission to be on said private property except if such dog is being used as a
so-called hunting/sporting, working, or in a competition/showing trial and is being
supervised as such by a person competent to prevent the dog from being a threat to public
safety; provided, however, that this section shall apply only while such dog is being used
for the above mentioned events, trials, work, or training for such purposes;
2. such dog shall be permitted to defecate on public or private property and the
owner/keeper of the dog does not immediately clean up and remove such defecation;
3. that dog is allowed to bark excessively or make any other such noise in a fashion as to
deny the neighbors peaceful and quiet enjoyment of their property to include noise that
exceeds five (5) minutes during the quiet time of 9 PM to 7 AM or constant noise more
than a half (1h) hour during any span of time, as to disturb the neighbor. Proof of such
disturbance is the complete onus of the complainant.
H. "Unprovoked" - Means that the domestic animal was not hit, kicked or struck by the person
with any object or part of the person's body, nor was any part of the animal's body pulled,
pinched or squeezed by a person to cause pain or discomfort to the animal, nor was the
animal verbally or physically taunted, in any way, whether there be physical contact or not.
SECTION 2 - REGISTRATION AND LICENSE
A. The owner/keeper of one (1) to four ( 4) dogs more than six ( 6) months old shall annually
complete an application for a dog license for each dog and file the same with the Town Clerk on
or before March 31 st of any given year. Upon presenting said application and a valid certificate
of rabies vaccination (along with proof of neutering and spaying, if applicable) for the dog and
the appropriate fee, the Clerk shall issue said license and tag. The applicant shall keep the tag
securely affixed to the dog with a collar or harness at all times.
B. All initial kennel licenses, other than those for a Personal Kennel, are subject to approval by
the Zoning Board of Appeals per the Zoning Bylaws of the Town of Rutland.
C. All kennel licenses, both initial and annual renewals, may not be issued by the Town Clerk
until the kennel has passed an inspection by the Animal Control Officer. The ACO shall
determine if said premises are safe, secure, and if the animals will be kept in a sanitary area that
is adequate to house the number of dogs. Upon a positive finding the ACO shall notify the Town
Clerk to issue a license. Once issued, the applicant shall keep all tags securely affixed to each
dog with a collar or harness at all times.
1. Personal Kennel - an application form for a kennel license for five (5) to ten ( 10) dogs,
six months of age or older, shall be submitted annually to the Town Clerk. A valid
certificate of rabies vaccination with proof of neutering and spaying, if applicable, for
each dog must be on file in the Town Clerk office. The inspection fee and license fee for
each dog must accompany the application. A second kennel license is required for more
than ten ( 10) dogs.
2. Commercial Breeder Kennel - a renewal application for the number of dogs approved in
the initial application must be submitted annually to the Town Clerk along with the
required fee. A license will be issued following an inspection with positive results by the
ACO. Current rabies certificates for each dog are required to be on file in the Clerk's
office for any dog over 6 months of age. The inspection fee and license fee for each dog
must accompany the application.
3. Veterinary Kennel - a renewal application must be submitted annually to the Town Clerk
along with the required fee. A license will be issued following an inspection with positive
results by the ACO.
4. Domestic Charitable Corporation Kennel- a renewal application must be submitted
annually to the Town Clerk. A license will be issued following an inspection with
positive results by the ACO. An inspection fee will apply. Current rabies certificates
must be on file in the Clerk's office for each dog. Individual tags will be provided at no
5. Commercial Boarding or Training Kennel - a renewal application must be submitted
annually to the Town Clerk along with the appropriate fee. A license will be issued
following an inspection with positive results from the ACO.
D. If an inspection results in a negative finding, the owner will have ten (10) days to rectify the
situation before additional action will be taken by the Animal Control Officer.
E. All License Periods shall be from April 1 in any year to March 31 the following year.
F. All fees and fines relating to this bylaw shall be as determined by the Board of Selectmen. A
list of all fees and fines shall be kept on file by the Board of Selectmen and be posted in a
conspicuous place at the Town Clerk's office and the Public Safety Building.
The following are example of violations that may result in a fine:
1. Failure to license dog by March 31st of the given licensing period ( except for a dog which
has not attained the age of six (6) months of age during that period and shall be licensed at
reaching the age of six (6) months of age with no penalty).
2. Dog found to be a nuisance
3. Dog without attached license tag.
4. Animal without current Rabies Certificate
5. Apprehension of loose dog and/or associated costs including for impoundment per day or
G. All fines and impound fees shall be collected by the ACO, shall be itemized in writing and
submitted monthly to the Town Treasurer. The Treasurer shall pay all costs of impoundment to
the kennel submitting an invoice for same.
SECTION 3 - PROHIBITION OF PERMITTING A DOG TO BECOME A PUBLIC
No owner/keeper of any dog in the Town of Rutland, whether licensed or unlicensed, shall allow
their dog to become a public nuisance as defined in section I. G.
A. A dog found to be a public nuisance as defined in section l .G. may be picked up and held
by the ACO for safe keeping until the owner/keeper can be located and such
owner/keeper may be fined as listed.
B. Owner/keepers of dogs who receive a notice of violation of the public nuisance portion of
this by-law shall be subject to a hearing before the Board of Selectmen under the
provisions of chapter 140, Section 157 of Mass. General Laws.
SECTION 4 - DANGEROUS DOGS
A. No owner/keeper keeping a dangerous dog as defined in Section 1.C. shall fail to safeguard
human beings or other domestic animals from said dog.
B. Upon receipt of a letter of complaint regarding a dog, the Board of Selectmen shall notify the
owner/keeper of the animal of the complaint with a copy thereof, shall schedule a hearing in
accordance with said statute and shall notify the owner/keeper of such hearing by regular
and certified mail. A hearing can also be requested by the ACO if the ACO or the police
department feels there are significant safety issues. Prior to the hearing the ACO shall
investigate any claims of a dangerous dog to determine whether such a finding is warranted.
If the circumstances support such a finding, the ACO shall notify, in writing, the Chief of
Police and the Board of Selectmen of such findings. Where appropriate, the ACO shall
submit to the Select Board a list of recommendations as to how the owner/keeper can safely
control the dog so that its behavior will not put humans or domestic animals in danger. The
Board at its sole discretion may accept the recommendations of the ACO or order other
appropriate remedies. Such remedies may include, but are not limited to, one or more of the
1. spaying or neutering the dog within a specified period of time;
2. micro-chipping the dog to ensure identification should the dog be sold or given to
3. require ongoing behavior training by a qualified trainer specializing in dogs with
4. use of a correctly fitted wire basket muzzle whenever outside or off the owner/keepers
5. containment of the dog on the owners/keeper's property in a fashion provided, however
that a radio-fence alone will not constitute restraint on an owner's property; construction
of a secure enclosure of chain link, no smaller than 12 feet x 12 feet with a catchment
area at the gate and having a secure top and bottom so the dog cannot escape, to restrain
the dog in when it is outside the owner's house and on the owners/keeper's property;
6. chain link enclosure door must be secured with a padlock when the dog is in the
7. display of a sign indicating that a "dangerous dog" is on the premises;
8. the dog must never be unrestrained in the town boundaries;
9. the dog hand walked by a competent adult, on an adequate leash no longer than (six) 6
feet in length;
10. require that the ACO place the dog in a secure facility, to be held at the owner's
expense, until all orders to assure the dog can safely be housed in town are successfully
11 . humane euthanization of the dog.
C. The owner/keeper of a "dangerous dog" must immediately notify the Police Department
Dispatch if the dog is loose or unconfined; bites/attacks a human or domestic animal; is sold,
given away, dies, or is to be moved to another address and provide the ACO with any and all
information requested under the given circumstances.
D. Failure to comply with an order issued by the Board of Selectmen pursuant to Section 5.C.
and M.G.L. c.140, s. 157 will result in the following:
1. the dog being picked up by the ACO and held in the designated pound, at the
owner/keeper's expense, until another Board of Selectmen hearing is held to determine
any additional finding(s) and additional restriction(s);
2. a failure to comply may result in fines or other penalties.
The provisions of this by-law and/or any regulation of the Board of Selectmen adopted
hereunder, may be enforced by the ACO and/or any police officer of the Town of Rutland by any
available means in the law or equity, including but not limited to enforcement by non-criminal
disposition pursuant to the provisions of M.G.L. Chapter 40 s. 21 D. Each day a violation exists
shall constitute a separate violation.
The penalties for violating this bylaw are as follows:
First offense $ 20.00
Second offense $ 50.00
Third and subsequent offense $100.00
SECTION 6 - EMERGENCY TREATMENT OF DOGS AND CATS INJURED ON A
Upon notification of any domestic animal being injured on a public way, the ACO shall
immediately contact the owner, if known, and require the owner to care for said animal. Any
cost incurred by the ACO for emergency response, care, transportation, treatment, and/or
disposal of an animal shall be the responsibility of the owner/keeper.
SECTION 7 - SEVERABILITY
Should any portion, section or provision of this Bylaw be found invalid for any reason, that
finding shall not affect the validity and force of any other section, portion or provision of this
SECTION 8 - PERSONS CONVICTED OF CRUEL TY TO ANIMALS
Any person or persons found guilty of a violation of any provisions of Section 77, 80A, 94 or 95
of Chapter 272 of the Massachusetts General Laws, will forfeit the right to own or keep
any animal within the Town of Rutland and must immediately, upon conviction, surrender
all animals in his/her possession to the Animal Control Officer.
SECTION 9 - RIGHT TO FARM
In the event of a dispute between a persons' right to farm and the enforcement of this bylaw, the
Rutland Agricultural Commission may be used to resolve the dispute. This dispute resolution
option does not supersede the right to request a hearing under state statute.
In effect upon Attorney General Approval received June 27, 2014
Amended May 2015 / effective 9/18/2015