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Animal Control Bylaw
         Animal Control Bylaw   

PREAMBLE/PURPOSE: The acceptance of this bylaw under the provisions of Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 140, Section 147A, shall signify acceptance of the provision of said statute.

  • The purpose of this bylaw is to achieve the objectives of the animal control enabling legislation contained in Chapter 140, Section 147A 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.
  • This bylaw is adopted for the above purposes under the authority provided by, and in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 140, Section 147A of the General Law, as amended.

A. “Animal Control Officer” (“ACO”) - any person or persons designated 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, equine, bovine, sheep, swine, alpaca, llama, ferret, rabbit,
      goat, reptile or domestic fowl.

E.  “Kennel” - a pack or collection of more than four (4) dogs, six (6) months of age or older,
      which are kept on a single premises.

  • Hobby Kennel – a kennel to house three (3) dogs but not more than four (4) dogs over six (6) months of age
  • Breeder Kennel – a kennel to house not more than nine (9) dogs over six (6) months of age
  • Commercial Kennel – a commercial for profit kennel designed to house more than ten (10) dogs
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 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.
  • If 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.
  • If 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 (½) 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 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.


A.  The owner/keeper of any dog more than six (6) months old shall annually complete an application for a dog license and file the same with the Town Clerk on or before April 1st. Upon presenting said application and a valid certificate of Rabies vaccination 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.   Hobby Kennel or Breeder Kennel
Before a license for a Hobby Kennel or Breeder Kennel may be issued, an application shall be submitted to the Town Clerk.  The Town Clerk shall forward the application to the ACO who shall forthwith inspect the premises and determine that 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.  Within ten (10) days of completing the inspection, the ACO shall forward its finding to the Town Clerk.  Upon a positive finding the ACO shall notify the Town Clerk to issue a license.  Upon a negative finding, the ACO shall notify the Town Clerk to deny the license.  In either case, the Town Clerk shall notify the applicant within seven (7) days of receipt of the finding with a copy thereof.  All dogs over six (6) months of age kept in a Hobby Kennel or Breeder Kennel must show proof of rabies vaccination.

C.    Commercial Kennel
Upon receipt of a completed application for a Commercial Kennel license, the Town Clerk shall forward the application to the ACO who shall forthwith conduct an inspection of the applicant’s kennel and determine if said premises are safe, secure, and that the animals will be kept in a sanitary area that is adequate to house the number of dogs and submit a report and the application to the Planning Board.  The Planning Board shall request the opinion of the Zoning Enforcement Officer regarding the proposed kennel’s compliance with town zoning bylaws.

If the kennel is in compliance with town zoning bylaws and the requirements of this bylaw, the Planning Board shall within thirty (30) days conduct a public hearing in accordance with Section 8 of the Rutland Zoning Bylaw.  The Planning Board then shall approve, approve with conditions, or deny the application.

D. All License Periods shall be from April 1 in any year to the March 31 the following year.

E. Fees
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:

  • Failure to license dog by April 1 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.
  • Dog found to be a nuisance
  • Dog without attached license
  • Animal without current Rabies Certificate
  • Apprehension of loose dog and/or associated costs including for impoundment per day or portion thereof

F. 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.


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 1. G.

  • A dog found to be a public nuisance as defined in section 1.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.
  • Owner/keepers of dogs who receive three (3) or more notices 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.

  • 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.
  • Upon receipt of a letter of complaint regarding a dog, the Board of Selectmen shall determine if a hearing under M.G.L. c.140 s. 157 is necessary. If a positive determination is made, the Board 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.  Previous 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 following:
  • Spaying or neutering the dog within a specified period of time
Micro-chipping the dog to ensure identification should the dog be sold or given to another person
  • Require ongoing behavior training by a qualified trainer specializing in dogs with problem behavior
  • Use of a correctly fitted wire basket muzzle whenever outside or off the owner/keepers premises
  • 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
Chain link enclosure door must be secured with a padlock when the dog is in the enclosure
  • Display of a sign indicating that a “dangerous dog” is on the premises
The dog must never be unrestrained in the town boundaries
  • The dog hand walked by a competent adult,  on an adequate leash no longer than (six) 6
feet in length;
  • 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 complied with
  • 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. c. 140 s. 21 D.  Each day a violation exists shall constitute a separate violation.


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.   


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 bylaw.


Any person or persons found guilty of a violation of any provisions of SECTION 77, 80A, 94 OR 95 OF CHAPTER 272 OF MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL LAW, 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.  

Note:  In effect upon Attorney General Approval received June 27, 2014


Town of Rutland 250 Main Street, Rutland, MA 01543   Disclaimer
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