Plymouth, MA: BSL repealed

Plymouth, MA, old city code considered all “pit bulls” to be dangerous animals. Dangerous animals could not be owned in Plymouth without a special permit, which was only issued if the owner met certain ownership requirements, such as special housing and liability insurance.

Plymouth has now repealed this breed-specific designation and has instituted a breed-neutral designation for identifying “vicious” dogs.

Old law

§ 23-21. Classification.
Dangerous or wild animals include the following: all poisonous animals, apes, baboons, bears, bison, cheetahs, crocodilians 24 inches or more, constrictor snakes 36 inches in length or more, coyotes, deer, elephants, game cocks and other fighting birds, hippopotami, hyenas, jaguars, leopards, lions, lynxes, monkeys, ostriches, piranha, pitbulls, pumas, rhinoceroses, sharks, tigers and wolves; provided, however, that the foregoing list is not deemed to be all-inclusive.

New law

From the Town Meeting Warrant for April 7, 2012 (Article 20, passed):

ARTICLE 20: To see if the Town will vote to amend the General Bylaws, Chapter 23, Animals, Article 1, Dog Control, as follows:

(1) By inserting in §23-1 the following new definition:

VICIOUS – – Dogs meeting the following descriptions, as determined by the Animal Control Officer, shall be considered vicious:

A. Any dog found to, without provocation, attack, threaten or terrorize any person on any public ground including streets and sidewalks.

B. Any dog with a history of attacking without provocation or has caused injury to any human being or domestic animal.

C. Any dog that bites, injures, assaults, or attacks a human being or domestic animal.

D. Any dog found to be involved or trained in dog fighting.

E. Provided, however, that notwithstanding the above criteria, no dog may be considered vicious for inflicting injury or damage to a person who:

i. is found to be willfully trespassing or in the process of any other tort offense on the property of the animal’s owner; or

ii. teases, torments, abuses, or assaults the dog.

(2) By amending §23-2 by deleting the text of §23-2(A) (4) and inserting in place thereof the following, “If found to be a vicious dog.”

(3) By amending §23-2 by deleting §23-2(A)(5) and renumbering the remaining content accordingly;

(4) And further, by amending §23-21, Classification, by deleting the word “pitbulls” and inserting, after the words “wolves” the following, “Any dog found to be vicious under Section 23-1 of the Town Bylaws.”

News Article

Plymouth Town Meeting nixes pitbull permits

By Emily Clark, Wicked Local Plymouth
Posted Apr 13, 2012 @ 08:00 AM

PLYMOUTH — Plymouth used to classify pitbulls as aggressive, requiring their owners to obtain a “wild animal” permit for the dog and buy a certain level of insurance.

But Town Meeting changed all that Monday night, voting to eliminate this permit process for pitbulls and to define vicious dogs as meeting certain criteria. The vote widens the net, including any aggressive dog as a candidate for a wild animal permit and other restrictive measures, not just pitbulls. […]

Town Meeting struck down Hall’s motion to postpone the article and voted to implement the bylaw amendment. The vote was not unanimous, however, and Town Moderator Steven Triffletti asked the “no” votes to stand and be counted. There were 18 against the measure.

Full article retrieved 4/19/12 from

One response to “Plymouth, MA: BSL repealed

  1. This new law makes MUCH more sense than these old fear-monger-inspired BSLs!!!!