Massachusetts: New state law will nullify cities’ BSL

Reports out of Lowell and Worcester, MA, indicate that the breed-specific ordinances in both cities—and by extension, any other MA city with BSL—will be nullified by the new MA state law when it goes into effect on October 31. The new state law prohibits municipalities from regulating dogs based on breed.

Many attorneys in MA seem to agree that MA “home rule” does not allow city ordinances to conflict with state law. Even if cities do not officially repeal their BSL, the laws will be preempted and nullified by the new state law when it goes into effect.

Tracking page for MA S.2192:

New state law could maul Lowell’s pit-bull ordinance

By Lyle Moran,

Updated: 08/09/2012 08:18:00 AM EDT

LOWELL — […] City Manager Bernie Lynch told The Sun that the city’s Law Department is reviewing the new animal-control legislation to determine whether it affects Lowell’s ordinance. […]

“It seems like it may have an impact on whether the pit-bull ordinance is sustainable,” Lynch said.[…]

Full article retrieved 8/12/12 from

Worcester pit bull regulations nullified


WORCESTER — An animal control law signed by Gov. Deval L. Patrick includes language that effectively nullifies Worcester’s pit bull ordinance.[…]

City Solicitor David M. Moore said he will have to review the new law and report on it to City Manager Michael V. O’Brien. Even if the city doesn’t repeal the pit bull ordinance, enforcing it will be moot when the state law takes effect. […]

Jonathan S. Rankin, a Framingham-based lawyer and chairman of the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Animal Law Practice Group, said the new law says communities can make additional ordinances as long as the language is not breed-specific.

“I think these breed-specific laws have to be changed or they will be invalidated,” he said. […]

Full article retrieved 8/12/12 from


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