Town of Westminster, MA
Worcester County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Special Town Meeting 11-12-1974 by Art. 2 as Art. XI, Sec. B, of the 1975 Bylaws. Amendments noted where applicable.]

§ 71-1 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context shall otherwise require, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
DOG
All animals of canine species, regardless of sex.
OWNER
Any person or persons, firm, association or corporation owning, keeping or harboring a dog, as herein defined.
PUBLIC NUISANCE
Any dog shall be deemed a "public nuisance" when attacking persons or domestic animals or deer while said dog is on property other than that of the dog owner and when destroying property; and, after a hearing by the Selectmen, said dog may be deemed a "public nuisance" when it is persistently and prolongedly barking or howling between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. for more than two consecutive days. Each twenty-four-hour period thereafter shall constitute a separate violation. Further, any unspayed female dog, while in season, shall be deemed a "public nuisance" when not confined indoors by the owner thereof or housed in a veterinary hospital or registered kennel.

§ 71-2 Public nuisances prohibited.

No owner or keeper or any dog shall permit such dog, whether licensed or unlicensed, to become a public nuisance within the Town of Westminster.

§ 71-3 Impoundment; reclamation; disposal of unreclaimed dogs.

A. 
It shall be the duty of the Dog Officer to apprehend any dog found to be a public nuisance or running at large within the Town and to impound such dog in a suitable place or to order the owner thereof to restrain said dog.
[Amended ATM 5-4-2002 by Art. 44]
B. 
If such dog is so impounded and has upon it the name or address of the owner thereof, or if the name of said owner is otherwise known, then the Dog Officer shall immediately notify the owner of such impounding. The owner of any dog so impounded may reclaim such dog upon the payment of an impoundment fee of $25 in addition to the sum of $5, or such greater sum as may be permitted by law, for each day or part thereof that the dog is impounded; provided, however, that if the dog is not licensed, before release to any person, a license as required by law shall be secured.
[Amended ATM 5-4-2002 by Art. 44]
C. 
Any dog which has been impounded and has not been redeemed by the owner within 10 days shall be disposed of as provided by MGL c. 140, § 152, and any amendments thereto; or released to any state-licensed school of medicine, dentistry or veterinary medicine or research foundation for such use as deemed useful or necessary for advancement of biological sciences.

§ 71-4 Licensing of dogs.

[Amended ATM 4-4-1981 by Art. 25; ATM 6-5-1993 by Art. 28; STM 10-12-1999 by Art. 26; ATM 5-4-2002 by Art. 44]
A. 
The owner or keeper of any dog shall license such animal in accordance with the provisions of MGL c. 140, §§ 137 through 139, inclusive, except that fees for such licenses shall be as follows:
(1) 
Male/female: $15.
(2) 
Neutered/spayed: $10.
(3) 
Kennels, four dogs or less: $40.
(4) 
Kennels, 10 dogs or less: $50.
(5) 
Kennels, 11 dogs or more: $75.
(6) 
Transfer of license: $2.
B. 
All owners or keepers of dogs kept in the Town of Westminster who by the 15th of April of each year have not licensed any dog or dogs who have attained the age of three months shall be required to pay an additional fee of $15.

§ 71-5 Trained attack dogs.

Any person having a trained attack dog on his property shall post at least one sign, in public view, attesting to this fact, and such animal shall be kept in a 10-gauge wire enclosure, roofed and floored, with padlocked gate.

§ 71-6 Operation of kennels.

No person shall operate a kennel for the keeping of four or more dogs without the approval of the Dog Officer and a permit from the Board of Health.

§ 71-7 Wild or dangerous pets.

Any person, before procuring a wild or dangerous pet, must first obtain a permit from the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Health.

§ 71-8 Restraining orders on dogs.

The Selectmen shall, at such time as they may deem necessary, impose a restraining order on all dogs within the Town of Westminster.

§ 71-9 Dogs on school property.

No dog shall be allowed to travel unleashed and unrestrained on any school property. Any owner of any dog violating any provisions of this section shall be fined not more than $20 for each offense.

§ 71-10 Pasturing of animals.

No person shall pasture any animal upon any street or way in the Town, with or without a keeper, except within the limits of such way adjoining his own premises, and on the same side of the street therewith.

§ 71-11 Animals at large.

A. 
No person shall permit any swine, horse, cow or other cattle to go at large in any street in this Town.
B. 
Any person owning, keeping or being responsible for a dog shall not allow or permit said dog to run at large on any of the streets or public places in the Town of Westminster or upon any private property, unless the owner or lawful occupant of such property grants permission therefor. No dog shall be allowed or permitted in any public place or street within the Town unless it is effectively restrained and controlled by a chain or other form of leash that is sufficient to hold the dog (or unless it is under the immediate and effective voice control of its owner or other handler) or unless it is within and confined to a motor vehicle.
[Added ATM 5-1-2004 by Art. 43]

§ 71-12 License required to keep stables; regulations for size and character.

A. 
Massachusetts General Law Chapter 111 provides for the licensing of suitable persons to keep a stable and are designed to protect the health and comfort of the community.
B. 
The Board of Health may make regulations as to the size and character of stalls, cages or pens, bedding, number of animals feeding and the storage and handling of feed and manure in any stable or place in Westminster.

§ 71-13 Suitability of keeper of animals.

Continued or repeated reports of animals causing a disturbance, improper fencing, hazardous and unsanitary conditions, mishandling and violation of other laws and regulations relating to animals create questions as to the suitability of the keeper of such animals. After a joint hearing by Selectmen and the Board of Health giving due consideration to the situation and the recommendations of those concerned, including all Town officials involved, the Selectmen and or the Board of Health may decide the keeping of such an animal or animals to be a public nuisance to be abated by the owner as provided in the General Laws.

§ 71-14 Violations and penalties.

[Added ATM 4-4-1981 by Art. 25]
A. 
Penalties. Notwithstanding any provisions of the General Laws to the contrary, any dog officer who takes cognizance of a violation of § 71-8 above; failure to license dogs pursuant to MGL c. 140, § 137, and § 71-4 of this chapter; failure to acquire kennel license pursuant to MGL c. 140, § 137A; and/or failure to vaccinate against rabies pursuant to MGL c. 140, § 145B, may issue or mail a notice of complaint of violation of the Municipal Dog Control Law to the owner or keeper of such dog or dogs, and if the owner or keeper of such dog or dogs is a minor, the parent or guardian of such minor shall be liable for any violation of this chapter.
B. 
Any owner or keeper found in violation of the above-mentioned procedure shall be subject to a fine of $10. If the owner or keeper of a dog or dogs is a minor, the parent or guardian of such minor shall be held liable for any violation of this chapter.
C. 
The procedure set forth above shall also include the provisions of Paragraphs 2 through 4 of MGL c. 140, § 173A, as amended.