Malden, MA: BSL passed

Last night, Malden, MA city council passed a complicated and no doubt virtually unenforceable “compromise” ordinance that is breed-specific. According to the article below, the ordinance requires visiting and newly obtained “pit bulls” to wear muzzles whenever they are outside (including on private property), but registered “pit bulls” will be grandfathered in and will not have to wear muzzles.

Read the draft that passed: maldendangerousdogs_4_5_12

Per the city clerk, the council will have ONE MORE VOTE on this proposal before it goes to the mayor and becomes official.

The exception adds a significant layer of work for animal control officers, who will now not only have to figure out whether a dog is a “pit bull,” but also determine whether the dog is grandfathered in. City visitors and new residents will be disproportionately targeted by the ordinance. We foresee a lot of appeals and challenges, and expect enforcement to be extremely time-consuming and expensive.

The ordinance further makes no sense at all, considering the council’s purported goals. The ordinance was proposed in response to several alleged “pit bull” incidents. But let’s think rationally for a moment about what type of person and dog the new ordinance targets. The muzzle requirement applies to dog owners who have gone outdoors with a visiting or newly-obtained “pit bull.” This, according to city council, is necessary for the safety of the public.

I wonder how many of Malden’s dog bites actually involved a visiting or newly-obtained “pit bull,” outside, leashed—and lacking only a muzzle. I’m willing to bet that this describes none of the dog bites that occurred in Malden. The ordinance doesn’t address any of the circumstances that actually lead to a dog bite.

Therefore, we expect that the ordinance will not only be expensive and difficult to enforce, it will have no effect on public safety whatsoever.

According to Councilor Barbara Murphy, all of the reported dog bite incidents in Malden involved off-leash dogs, in violation of the leash law. She voted against the proposed BSL, smartly suggesting that the city focus on enforcement of existing laws.

We are working to request the new ordinance from the city clerk and will post the text when we receive it.

Contact info for Malden, MA city officials
200 Pleasant Street, Room 609, Malden, MA 02148
Telephone: (781) 397-7130 Fax: (781) 397-7004

All alerts for Malden:

City To Require Muzzles on Some Pit Bulls

Residents with registered pit bulls and pit bull-mixes will be grandfathered an exemption from the new rules, which require the breed to be muzzled at all times while outdoors – including on private property without enclosed fencing.

By Chris Caesar 5:45 am

[…] Thanks to the deal, current residents with registered pit bulls – both purebred or mixed-breed – will receive an exemption from a new “dangerous dog” law, as well as an “exemption tag” the dog must wear at all times.

Thereafter, the city will require all new and visiting pit bulls be muzzled while outdoors, unless they are confined in a fenced-in area on private property. […]

Councilor Barbara Murphy, who voted against the ordinance, noted that all of the dog bite incidents reported to the city involved an off-leash dog, arguing the city should work on enforcing laws already on the books to protect citizens from dangerous dogs. […]

Full article retrieved 4/4/12 from

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