Category Archives: Massachusetts

Massachusetts Legislature Sends Boston’s BDL Law 969 “To Study”

The Massachusetts Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government sent Boston’s Senate Bill 969 (asking for allowance of pit bull regulation despite state law prohibiting it) “to study.” This means it is likely that the bill will make no further progress this legislative session.

Pit Bulletin Legal News attended the hearing on Bill 969 and testified against it. In preparation for the hearing, PBLN sent out an exhaustive Freedom of Information Act Request, which resulted in the production of two documents which showed overall bite counts went up after Boston began its breed discriminatory legislation. The only person who testified on behalf of the bill was the Director of Boston Animal Control. He provided no statistics, bite counts, or any data of any kind. His rational for supporting the law was so “we can get the bad guys.” The inference was that having pit bull regulation would give police probable cause to go after gang members and other criminal elements in the community. Sorry, but that’s not a legitimate legal reason.

Please contact both your state senator and state representative and ask them NOT to support S. 969. The bill, text below, would allow cities and towns to enact ineffective breed-discriminatory legislation, which focuses on preventing dog bites based on how certain dogs look, not how they act. Even though it was initiated by Boston, the bill would allow BDL anywhere in the state.

S. 969, An Act relative to Dangerous Dogs in Cities and Towns

SECTION 1. Subsection a of section 157 of chapter 140 of the General Laws, as appearing in section 31 of chapter 193 of the acts of 2012, is hereby amended by inserting in the first paragraph, after the world “dog”, in clause ii, the following:-

Unless municipal attack data indicates a specific breed may be deemed dangerous.

SECTION 2. Subsection c of section 157, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by inserting in the last paragraph, after the word “breed”, the following:-

Unless a city or town deems a specific breed to be deemed dangerous through analysis of municipal attack data and by a majority vote of the city council with the approval of the mayor, in the case of a city with a Plan A, Plan B, or Plan F charter; by a majority vote of the city council, in the case of a city with a Plan C, Plan D, or Plan E charter; by a majority vote of the annual town meeting or a special meeting called for the purpose, in the case of a municipality with a town meeting form of government; or by a majority vote of the town council, in the case of a municipality with a town council form of government.

New bill filed to allow BSL in Massachusetts

A little while ago we received word about SD (Senate Docket) 1247 that would create an exemption from the new state law the prohibits breed specific legislation.

This bill has been renamed and has been sent to the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government. SB 969 is the same as SD 1247.  The wording is identical, in that it will insert an exemption into the new comprehensive animal control law that would allow a municipality to prove through municipal bite statistics that they should be allowed to enact a breed specific law.

Massachusetts Residents:  Swift action is needed.  Reach out to your legislators and the members of the committee and ask them to opposed this bill.  Committee members can be found here. Specific legislators can be found on the government website, or if you are uncomfortable composing your own correspondence Best Friends Animal Society has created an alert form here.

SD1247 filed to allow BSL in Massachusetts

Thanks to Bless the Bullys for passing along this information from Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners. The bill to allow municipalities to pass breed specific laws in Massachusetts now has an official number.  Senator Michael Rush has proposed Senate Docket 1247 in his priority package of bills for 2013.  This bill would allow an exemption from the prohibition on breed specific legislation if a municipality can prove through statistical analysis of there bite data that one breed of dog is biting more than another. No additional details are given as to who would be responsible for the analysis and how they would assign breed descriptors, though we can only assume it will be based off visual ID. Once it is “proven” that one breed poses more of a risk than another the ordinance must then go through the normal channels in order to be voted into law.

From the MFDC&RDO website:

The Mayor of Boston put forth statewide legislation to return to breed-specific legislation (BSL) in his priority package of bills that was released on January 15. The bill is being spearheaded by Councilor Rob Consalvo of Boston, though has been filed in the state legislature by State Senator Michael Rush.

Please contact both your state senator and state legislator and ask them NOT to co-sponsor SD 1247. The bill, text below, would allow cities and towns to enact ineffective breed-specific legislation. Even though it was initiated by Boston, the bill would allow BSL anywhere in the state.

If you live in Boston, this is especially important, as the Boston delegation (representative and senators who represent any part of Boston) will likely be heavily lobbied by Councilor Consalvo to sign on as co-sponsors.

- You can find your representatives here:
– All legislators can be reached at: 617-722-2000
– The state’s website is here.

The text of SD1247 has not been posted on the Massachusetts legislature website.  It should be added to the website shortly, and we will provide the information to track the progress of the bill.

Some communication has been received  from various legislators in Massachusetts indicating that this could go either way, so it is very important for people to continue contacting their representatives.

The following is copied text of SD1247

“SD 1247, An Act relative to Dangerous Dogs in Cities and Towns

SECTION 1. Subsection a of section 157 of chapter 140 of the General Laws, as appearing in section 31 of chapter 193 of the acts of 2012, is hereby amended by inserting in the first paragraph, after the word “dog” in clause ii, the following:-

Unless municipal attack data indicates a specific breed may be deemed dangerous.

SECTION 2. Subsection c of section 157, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by inserting in the last paragraph, after the word “breed”, the following:-

Unless a city or town deems a specific breed to be deemed dangerous through analysis of municipal attack data and by a majority vote of the city council with the approval of the mayor, in the case of a city with a Plan A, Plan B, or Plan F charter; by a majority vote of the city council, in the case of a city with a Plan C, Plan D, or Plan E charter; by a majority vote of the annual town meeting or a special meeting called for the purpose, in the case of a municipality with a town meeting form of government; or by a majority vote of the town council, in the case of a municipality with a town council form of government.”

It has been brought to my attention that we had left off a credit for this posting initially. We are very sorry for having excluded that information and it has been fixed. We sincerely apologize.

 

Worcester MA – Pit Bull Regulations Removed

According to the telegram, and communications between StopBSL.org and City Officials, Worcester will drop requirements that pit bulls be licensed, registered and muzzled in public.  Instead of the police chief ordering measures against problem dogs — restraint, removal from the city, or euthanasia — the city will have a complaint and hearing procedure.

http://www.telegram.com/article/20121127/NEWS/111279895/1020

Boston, MA: City leaders will fight to keep BSL

Boston city officials have unhappily realized that the city’s discriminatory breed-specific ordinance will be nullified on the effective date of the new MA state animal law (October 31). The new state law, which preempts local laws, forbids the regulation of dogs based on breed.

Boston Mayor Menino and City Councilor Rob Consalvo plan to approach the state legislature and request a home rule petition that would exempt them from the state law against BSL. This would allow Boston to keep its BSL.

Worse still, if the legislature approves the petition, it could encourage other cities in MA to apply for home rule petitions in order to implement or keep BSL. In MA, home rule petitions are not at all uncommon. Many cities in the state apply for home rule petitions. Boston, as the largest city in the state, is certainly no stranger to these petitions.

We do not know whether the legislature would approve a home rule petition to allow Boston or any other municipality to keep BSL. We recommend that residents of Boston write the Mayor (mayor@cityofboston.gov) and Council (city.council@cityofboston.gov) and encourage them to stick with breed-neutral, effective laws, rather than pursue BSL.

Residents of Massachusetts can contact their state legislators and ask them not to approve any home rule petitions that would allow a city to circumvent state law, pass BSL, and undo the legislature’s very wise move to prevent breed discrimination. Legislator finder: http://www.malegislature.gov/people/findmylegislator

City Leaders Outraged Over Law That Allows Pit Bulls To Be Unmuzzled

By Karen Anderson, WBZ-TV
August 23, 2012 6:22 PM

BOSTON (CBS) – City leaders in Boston are outraged over a new law that will allow pit bulls to be unmuzzled in public in the city.

The new animal rights law signed by Governor Patrick bans any breed specific rules and regulations, which mean pit bulls can’t be singled out. […]

The city can ask the state for a home rule petition, which would make them exempt from this part of the law. Consalvo and Mayor Menino plan to do that. […]

Full article retrieved 8/24/12 from http://boston.cbslocal.com/2012/08/23/city-leaders-outraged-over-law-that-allows-pit-bulls-to-be-unmuzzled/

Massachusetts S.2192 signed by governor

Massachusetts S.2192, a comprehensive overhaul of Massachusetts state animal control laws, was signed by the governor today. The new law specifically states: “No city or town shall regulate dogs in a manner that is specific to breed.”

In essence, BSL will be illegal in Massachusetts when the law goes into effect at the end of October. Massachusetts joins 12 other U.S. states that prohibit municipalities from passing breed-specific laws.

The big question now is: What about the cities in Massachusetts that currently have BSL in place?

The answer is not as cut and dry as you’d expect. State law generally preempts (takes precedence over) municipal ordinances, but there are several ways that cities can get around the preemption and keep their BSL, most commonly using “grandfathering” (as happened in Miami-Dade) or “home rule” (as is common in Colorado and Illinois) justifications. In particular, every state handles home rule a bit differently; some states severely limit home rule powers, while other states are more flexible. From what I’ve gathered so far, there are differing opinions about whether cities that are in conflict with the new state law (e.g. Boston) can use home rule as a viable defense of their BSL.

I know that’s not the answer you were looking for, but unfortunately, we may have to wait for a better answer. I expect that, as news of the law’s passage sinks in, city councils across the state will consult with their attorneys to figure out what, if anything, they need to do in response to the changes in state law. Legislators and judges may also weigh in. We’ll know more as time goes on.

In the meantime, congratulations to Massachusetts for sweeping animal control reform and for making a stand against BSL.

Law bans breed-specific dog regulation

By Steve Decosta, sdecosta@s-t.com
August 02, 2012 6:06 PM

With New Bedford Animal Control Officer Manny Maciel by his side today, Gov. Deval Patrick signed a new, broad-based animal control bill into law, that, among its many provisions, prevents the regulation of dogs based solely on breed.

Stating clearly that “No city or town shall regulate dogs in a manner that is specific to breed,” the legislation ends debate in New Bedford and elsewhere on whether pits bulls should be banned.

The law further states that “no dog shall be deemed dangerous … based upon the breed of such dog.” […]

Full article retrieved 8/2/12 from http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120802/NEWS/120809957

Many thanks to the MSPCA for keeping us up to date. Visit their page to learn more about the many changes that this bill brings to Massachusetts: http://www.mspca.org/about-us/press-room/2012/mspca-angell-joins-governor.html

Bill tracking page: http://www.malegislature.gov/Bills/187/Senate/S02192

All alerts for S.2192: http://stopbsl.org/?s=S.2192

Massachusetts S.2192 moves forward (would prohibit BSL statewide)

UPDATE 8/2/12: S.2192 was signed by the governor today and will become effective in 90 days. Congratulations to Massachusetts!


Massachusetts S.2192 is a bill that overhauls Massachusetts state animal laws. It includes several clauses that would prohibit municipalities in MA from passing breed-specific laws. S.2192 is on track for third reading in the House.

The most recent amendment to S.2192, which is House document 4266, contains two clauses that would prohibit BSL:

Section 157. (a) Any person may file a complaint in writing to the hearing authority complaining that a dog owned or kept in the city or town is a nuisance dog or is a dangerous dog; provided, however, that no dog shall be deemed dangerous: […] (ii) based upon the breed of such dog; […]

No city or town shall regulate dogs in a manner that is specific to breed.

You can read the full text of the proposed bill, and amendments here: http://www.malegislature.gov/Bills/187/Senate/S02192

We do not not know whether the bill would be retroactive (e.g. would force MA municipalities that currently have BSL to repeal those laws).

All alerts for S.2192: http://stopbsl.org/?s=S.2192

Thanks to Carolyn for letting us know that S.2192 has moved forward.