- Chapter 18-7B Amended ATM May 2, 2016, Art. 15
- Created: 2016-05-11|Updated: 2016-05-11
Chapter 18-7 B. Impoundment of Animals, Duration of Impoundment, by deleting the phrase "state required ten-day holding period" and inserting the phrase "state required seven-day holding period." This is consistent with MGL Ch 140 sec. 136A -174E.Pending Attorney General approval.
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town of Sterling 12-5-1977 STM by Art. 6, approved 3-8-1978; amended 10-5-1981 STM by Art. 3, approved 1-11-1982; 11-7-1983 STM by Art. 3, approved 1-13-1983; 6-5-1989 ATM by Art. 49, approved 2-10-1993; 5-30-1992 by Art. 31, approved 4-2-1993; Animal Control Bylaw adopted 5-17-1999 by Art. 35, approved 9-7-1999; amended 5-12-2003 by Arts. 46 and 47, approved with caution 4-2-2004; 10-15-2007 STM by Arts. 14 to 18, approved with caution 2-13-2008; 5-11-2009 ATM by Arts. 52 to 54, approved 9-3-2009; 5-16-2011 ATM by Arts. 40 to 43, approved 9-19-2011; readopted 5-14-2012 ATM by Art. 19, approved 10-11-2012. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Mission statement of the Sterling Animal Control Bylaw as established in 1999 shall be: "To protect people from animals and animals from people."
As used in this bylaw, the following terms mean:
- The willful and intentional leaving behind or desertion of an animal causing such animal to become a public charge.
- ABUSED ANIMAL
- Any animal which:
- Spayed or neutered.
- Any dog, cat and/or domestic animal.
- ANIMAL BUSINESS
- Any pet shop, grooming shop, or boarding facility, animal day-care facility, pet sitting enterprise, except this term shall not include animal shelter, veterinary medical facilities, licensed research facilities, facilities operated by government agencies, or licensed animal dealers regulated by the USDA under the provisions of US Public Laws 89544 and 91579.
- ANIMAL CLINIC or VETERINARY HOSPITAL
- A facility where animals or pets are given medical or surgical treatment and the boarding of animals is limited to short-term care incidental to the clinic or hospital use.
- ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER (ACO)
- The person or persons who is recommended by the Police Chief and appointed by the Board of Selectmen to enforce Sterling's Animal Control bylaw and respond to incidents in which animals are involved.
- APPROVED ANIMAL FACILITY
- Any animal facility published by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) as a "Massachusetts approved shelter and rescue organization" and listed as "out of states," meaning facilities listed as such have approved isolation facilities.
- AT LARGE
- Any animal shall be deemed to be at large when off the property of the owner and not under restraint.
- COMMERCIAL BOARDING OR TRAINING KENNEL
- An establishment used for boarding, holding, day care, overnight
stays or training of animals that are not the property of the owner
of the establishment, at which such services are rendered in exchange
for consideration and in the absence of the owner of any such animal;
provided, however, that "commercial boarding or training kennel''
shall not include an animal shelter or animal control facility, a
pet shop licensed under MGL c. 129, § 39A, a grooming facility
operated solely for the purpose of grooming and not for overnight
boarding or an individual who temporarily, and not in the normal course
of business, boards or cares for animals owned by others. (MGL c.
140, § 136A)[Added 5-13-2013 ATM by Art. 50, approved 10-7-2013]
- COMMERCIAL BREEDER KENNEL
- An establishment, other than a personal kennel, engaged in
the business of breeding animals for sale or exchange to wholesalers,
brokers or pet shops in return for consideration. (MGL c. 140, § 136A)[Added 5-13-2013 ATM by Art. 50, approved 10-7-2013]
- COMPANION PET
- Any dog, cat and any other domesticated animal, requiring licensure and maintained in or near the household of the owner or person who cares for such domesticated animals, in addition to being spayed or neutered.
- A. Any animal which constitutes a physical threat to human beings or other domestic animals, as determined by the Animal Control Advisory Board, by virtue of a known propensity to endanger life by an unprovoked assault or bite so as to cause serious bodily harm; an animal trained, owned, or harbored for the purpose, primarily or in part, of animal fighting.
- B. Exceptions: An animal shall not be deemed dangerous if:
- DOG LICENSE
- A document, issued annually, upon receipt of a veterinarian's certificate verifying that each dog licensed over the age of six months is currently vaccinated against rabies.
- DOG WASTE
- Solid wastes defecated by said dog on any property, other than the property of the dog owner.
- DOMESTICATED ANIMAL
- All animals, including poultry, that are kept or harbored as domesticated animals. Poultry as used in this section shall include chickens, roosters, capons, hens, turkeys, pigeons, guinea fowl, and ducks and geese other than wild species. (MGL Chapter 129)
- DOMESTIC CHARITABLE CORPORATION KENNEL
- A facility operated, owned or maintained by a domestic charitable
corporation registered with the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural
Resources or an animal welfare society or other nonprofit organization
incorporated for the purpose of providing for and promoting the welfare,
protection and humane treatment of animals, including a veterinary
hospital or clinic operated by a licensed veterinarian, which operates
consistent with such purposes while providing veterinary treatment
and care. (MGL c. 140, § 136A)[Added 5-13-2013 ATM by Art. 50, approved 10-7-2013]
- The putting to death of any animal in a humane manner.
- A sum of money paid for service or a fixed charge.
- FERAL CAT
- A cat which currently lives in the "wild" and fends for itself, sometimes previously domestic.
- A sum of money imposed as punishment for an offense.
- HUMANE MANNER
- Care of an animal to include, but not be limited to, adequate heat, ventilation and sanitary shelter, wholesome food and water, consistent with the normal requirements and feeding habits of the animal's size, species, and breed.
- To detain and/or hold any domestic animal in a humane manner within a specified area or approved animal facility.
- IMPOUND FEE
- A predetermined charge for all daily costs incurred by the Municipal Impound for the humane manner of care provided to any animal(s) impounded, as determined by the ACO.
- Restricting a domestic animal from any direct human or other animal contact; confining the animal to a facility approved by the Animal Inspector of the appropriate municipality; or isolation at home under conditions approved by the Animal Inspector of the municipality.
- A pack or collection of dogs on a single premises, including
a commercial boarding or training kennel, commercial breeder kennel,
domestic charitable corporation kennel, personal kennel or veterinary
kennel. (MGL c. 140, § 136A)[Amended 5-13-2013 ATM by Art. 50, approved 10-7-2013]
- KENNEL LICENSE
- A document issued annually and contingent upon receipt by the Town Clerk of both a completed kennel application validating compliance to all provision listed as kennel license requirements as set forth in this bylaw and a veterinarian's certificate verifying each dog over the age of six months is currently vaccinated against rabies.
- KENNEL LICENSE TAGS
- Durable tags, numbered according to applicable kennel classification and issued annually in accordance with all provisions stated within the kennel requirements section of this bylaw.
- LICENSE TAG
- A durable tag issued annually upon licensure of any animal by the Town Clerk and upon which shall appear the name of the Town issuing such license, a tag number and the year of issue.
- LICENSING AUTHORITY
- The Town Clerk or any designated representative thereof charged with administering the issuance and/or revocation of licenses under the provisions of the bylaw. The Town Clerk shall issue licenses and tags on a form prescribed and furnished by the Town Clerk's office.
- MUNICIPAL IMPOUND
- A temporary holding area, designated by the Sterling Chief of Police and/or the ACO. The designated area shall be located within the boundaries of the Town of Sterling and contain a proper enclosure, approved by the ACO and as described herein. This area is not approved for quarantine.
- Rendered permanently incapable of reproduction.
- A person who is a resident of Massachusetts but who resides in a city or Town other than Sterling, a person who is a resident of another state, or both.
- Repetitive, domestic animal behavior documented by the ACO to constitute an ongoing violation of § 18-6 of this bylaw and demonstrated by the animal(s) with any of the following action(s):
- A person (or, in the event of a minor, the legal guardian) having the right of property or custody of an animal or who keeps or harbors an animal or knowingly permits an animal to remain on or about any premises occupied by that person.
- Any individual, corporation, partnership, organization, or institution commonly recognized by law as a unit.
- PERSONAL KENNEL
- A pack or collection of more than four dogs, three months
old or older, owned or kept under single ownership, for private personal
use; provided, however, that breeding of personally owned dogs may
take place for the purpose of improving, exhibiting or showing the
breed or for use in legal sporting activity or for other personal
reasons; provided, further, that selling, trading, bartering or distributing
such breeding from a personal kennel shall be to other breeders or
individuals by private sale only and not to wholesalers, brokers or
pet shops; provided, further, that a personal kennel shall not sell,
trade, barter or distribute a dog not bred from its personally-owned
dog; and provided, further, that dogs temporarily housed at a personal
kennel, in conjunction with an animal shelter or rescue registered
with the department, may be sold, traded, bartered or distributed
if the transfer is not for profit. (MGL c. 140, § 136A)[Added 5-13-2013 ATM by Art. 50, approved 10-7-2013]
- PET SHOP
- Every place or premises where birds, mammals or reptiles are kept for the purpose of sale at either wholesale or retail, import, export or barter, exchange or gift. (MGL c. 129, § 1)
- PROPER ENCLOSURE
- A secure confinement indoors or in any outside securely enclosed and locked pen or structure, resistant to tunneling, suitable to prevent the entry of young children and designed to prevent the animal from escaping. Such pen or structure must have secured sides, in addition to a secure top to provide protection from the elements for the animal.
- PUBLIC AREAS
- Include Town Beach, Town Common and Memorial Area, playing fields, school property, greenways, Town buildings and grounds, cemeteries, public ways and walks.
- To hold in segregation from the general animal population any dog or cat or companion pet because of the presence or suspected presence of a contagious disease.
- RABIES VACCINATION
- The inoculation of an animal against rabies in accordance with state law and the "Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control."
- RESEARCH INSTITUTE
- Any institution operated in the United States or by the commonwealth or a political subdivision thereof, or any school or college of medicine, public health, dentistry, pharmacy, veterinary medicine or agriculture, medical diagnostic laboratory or biological laboratory, hospital or other educational or scientific establishment within the commonwealth above the rank of secondary school, which, in connection with any of its activities, investigates or gives instruction concerning the structure or functions of living organisms or the cause, prevention, control or cure of disease or abnormal conditions of human beings or animals. (MGL c. 140, § 136A).
- An animal shall be considered under restraint if it is:
- SERVICE DOG/ANIMAL
- A service dog or animal as defined by the Americans with
Disabilities Act or regulations promulgated thereunder. (MGL c. 140, § 139C)[Amended 5-13-2013 ATM by Art. 50, approved 10-7-2013]
- A public animal control facility or any other facility which is operated by any organization or individual for the purpose of protecting animals from cruelty, neglect or abuse. (MGL c. 140, § 136A)
- Rendered permanently incapable of reproduction.
- SPECIAL PERMIT
- A permit issued pursuant to MGL c. 40A, § 9, and
the Sterling Protective Bylaw. In accordance with case law, neither
the Zoning Act nor the Town zoning bylaws gives an absolute right
to a special permit. The special permit granting authority is not
compelled to grant the permit; it has discretionary power in acting
thereon. (See MacGibbon v. Board of Appeals of Duxbury, 356 Mass.
635, 638-639, 1970 and Sterling Protective Bylaws, Article 5).[Amended 5-13-2013 ATM by Art. 49]
- STRAY ANIMAL
- Includes any dog, cat or domestic animal at large in any public area and without an apparent home.
- STRICT CONFINEMENT
- Maintenance of a domestic animal in an escape-proof, solid-walled building with a roof, approved by the Animal Inspector of the municipality. The animal may be leash walked by an adult or under the direct supervision of an adult.
- VALID LICENSE
- A current document and tag from the jurisdiction in which the animal resides.
- VETERINARY KENNEL
- A veterinary hospital or clinic that boards dogs for reasons
in addition to medical treatment or care; provided, however, that
"veterinary kennel'' shall not include a hospital or clinic used solely
to house dogs that have undergone veterinary treatment or observation
or will do so only for the period of time necessary to accomplish
that veterinary care. (MGL c. 140, § 136A)[Added 5-13-2013 ATM by Art. 50, approved 10-7-2013]
Editor's Note: The former definition of "domestic charitable corporation," which immediately followed, was repealed 5-13-2013 ATM by Art. 50. See now the definition of "domestic charitable corporation kennel."
Editor's Note: This article also repealed the former definition of "kennel commercial," which immediately followed.
Editor's Note: See 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.
Individual dog license provisions. A person who at the commencement of a license period becomes the owner or keeper of a dog six months old or older, which is not duly licensed, and the owner or keeper of a dog when it becomes six months old during a license period, shall cause it to be registered and numbered for the accepted licensing period. The owner or keeper of a licensed dog shall cause each animal to wear a collar or harness of leather or other suitable material around its neck or body, to which shall be securely attached a license tag in the form prescribed, and upon which shall appear the license number, the inscription "Town of Sterling," and the year of issue. Such tags shall be furnished in the same manner as the license by the Town Clerk. This section shall not apply to a person having a kennel license or companion pet license, where it is otherwise provided by law, nor shall it apply to a person having a kennel license. The registering, numbering, describing and licensing of all types of dog licenses shall be kept in the office of the Town Clerk. (MGL c. 140, § 137, amended 1987, c. 118. The deadline to obtain an individual dog license shall be April 15.)
Companion pet license provisions. Any owner or keeper of one to four animals requiring licensure, being over the age of six months, being maintained in a private residence for noncommercial purposes and all of which have been spayed or neutered, may secure a companion pet license. The holder of a companion pet license shall cause each animal to wear, while it is at large, a collar or harness to which shall be securely attached a license tag upon which shall appear the number of such license, the year of issue and the inscription "Town of Sterling." Such license shall be in a form prescribed by the Town Clerk. The Town Clerk shall not issue a companion pet license, unless the owner or keeper provides the Town Clerk with veterinarian certificates verifying that each animal over the age of six months is currently vaccinated against rabies and copies of certificates confirming the animal is spayed or neutered. The deadline to obtain a companion pet license shall be April 15.
No Town Clerk shall grant such license for any dog unless the owner thereof provides such Town Clerk with:
Either a veterinarian certification that such dog has been vaccinated in accordance with the bylaw provisions and those of MGL c. 140, § 145; or
Licensing exemptions. A licensing authority may grant an exemption from all dog licensing provisions in this bylaw, for any dog which:
Has not yet attained six months of age; or
Any dog which the local board of health, for a specified period of time, has declared exempt; or
Upon presentation of a veterinarians' certificate stating, that because of an infirmity, other physical condition or regimen of therapy, the inoculation is thereby deemed inadvisable; or
Any dog in transit or brought into the commonwealth temporarily for the sole purpose of showing in shows or exhibition.
Whoever is the owner or keeper of a dog or cat in the commonwealth six months of age or older shall cause such dog or cat to be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian using a licensed vaccine according to the manufacturer's directions, and shall cause such dog or cat to be revaccinated at intervals recommended by the manufacturer. Unvaccinated dogs and cats acquired or moved into the commonwealth shall be vaccinated within 90 days after the acquisition or arrival into the commonwealth or upon reaching the age of six months, whichever last occurs. It shall be the duty of each veterinarian, at the time of vaccinating any dog or cat, to complete a certificate of rabies vaccination which shall include, but not be limited to the following information: the owner's name and address; a description of the animal, including breed, sex, age, name and distinctive markings; the date of vaccination; the rabies vaccination tag number; the type of rabies vaccine used; the route of vaccination; the expiration date of the vaccine; and the vaccine lot number. The veterinarian shall issue a tag with each certificate of vaccination. The tag shall be secured by the owner or keeper of such dog or cat to a collar or harness made of suitable material to be worn by the dog or cat; provided, however, that the owner of a cat may choose not to affix a tag to his cat, but shall have the tag available for inspection by authorized persons. In the event that a tag is lost, the owner or keeper of the animal shall, upon presentation of the original vaccination certificate, be issued a new tag. In addition, any person who fails to comply with any provisions of this section shall be charged a fine of $25 per animal.
A license, duly recorded, shall be valid throughout the commonwealth, except that, in the case of permanent removal of a dog into another town within the commonwealth, the owner or keeper thereof shall, within 30 days after such removal, present the original license and tag of such dog to the Clerk of the town into which such dog has been removed, and such Clerk shall take up the same and issue to said owner or keeper a transfer license, together with a tag, for such dog upon payment of $1 which shall be retained by the Clerk unless otherwise provided by law.
The licensing period shall be January 1 through and inclusive of April 15 of the current year. The deadline for procurement of all types of dog licenses is established as April 15 of each year. New residents must apply for a license within 30 days of establishing residence. Every license issued to the owner of a dog shall have a description of the symptoms of rabies printed thereon. Such description shall be supplied by the Board of Health.
No fee to license a dog or other animal shall be charged to the owner(s) of a service dog/animal, as defined in this bylaw or any dog owner(s) age 70 years old or older. In order to apply the lower fee to license a spayed or neutered dog, the owner must provide, to the Town Clerk, a certificate of spay or neuter from a registered veterinarian for said dog(s) being licensed.
Penalties for violation(s) of § 18-3 shall be:
Failure to license a dog or dogs in the Town of sterling may result in a criminal complaint being issued.
Special permit granting authority. Unless specifically designed otherwise, the Board of Appeals shall act as the special permit granting authority.
Kennel license provisions. Any owner or keeper of more than four dogs six months old or older shall obtain a kennel license. Such license shall be in a form prescribed by the Town Clerk. Such license shall be in lieu of any other license for any dog while kept on kennel premises during any portion of the period of time for which the kennel license is issued. The holder of a kennel license shall cause each dog kept therein to wear, while it is at large, a collar or harness, to which shall be securely attached a durable tag upon which shall appear a kennel number assigned at the time license was issued, the year of issuance and the inscription "Town of Sterling." No kennel license shall be granted until a completed kennel license application, with full payment of indicated kennel license fees, is receipted by the Town Clerk. The Town Clerk shall, upon application, issue without charge a kennel license to any domestic charitable corporation, incorporated exclusively for the purpose of protecting animals from cruelty, neglect, or abuse, and for the relief of suffering among animals. A veterinary hospital shall not be considered a kennel unless it contains an area for selling, breeding or boarding of dogs for other than medical purposes, in which case it shall be required to make application for a kennel license.
A kennel license and/or kennel renewal license, respectively, shall be issued upon receipt of a completed kennel application, accompanied by payment of applicable license fees, not including other fees. No fee to license a kennel shall be charged to any kennel owner(s) age 70 years old or older.
[Amended 5-3-2014 ATM by Art. 38, approved 8-20-2014]
Kennel application and renewal requirements are as follows:
Every applicant for a kennel license shall submit a completed application form to the Town Clerk. Issuance of a kennel license shall be contingent upon compliance with all pertinent sections of this bylaw and receipt by the Town Clerk of the following information:
A completed kennel license application form including payment in full of all fees applicable; and
A documented approval from the Zoning Enforcement Officer stating that issuance of a kennel license to said applicant would not violate any local bylaws or state rules or regulations with regard to zoning; and
In addition, where required obtaining a special permit for any kennel so designated by the Protective Bylaw (Zoning) of Sterling; and
Written approval from the Animal Control Officer that kennel applicant is in compliance with the Sterling Animal Control Bylaw as listed in kennel regulations, as well as any state or federal laws, rules, and regulations pertaining to animals; and
Written opinion from the Board of Health that the Animal Inspector has inspected the kennel for the purpose of verifying appropriate sanitation and husbandry practices are being followed; and
That the kennel applicant is in compliance with all Sterling Board of Health regulations.
If any person(s) is issued a kennel license in Sterling previous to the date this section of the bylaw becomes legally effective, they shall be exempt to fulfill the kennel application requirements as designated above. However, they will need to follow the renewal procedure, as indicated, on an annual basis. At anytime in the future should their kennel license be revoked or not renewed in the time period provided, then at that time, prior to the issuance of another kennel license, they shall be required to comply with all kennel application requirements as listed above.
Renewal application (annual). Every holder of a kennel license shall renew the license annually by submitting a completed renewal application to the Town Clerk. Renewing a kennel license shall be contingent upon receipt by the Town Clerk of the following information:
Kennel license regulations. Every person issued a kennel license in the Town of Sterling shall be required to:
Keep and maintain at all times on its premises accurate records of descriptions with regard to the identities of all dogs kept on the premises, valid copies of current rabies certificates for all dogs over six months of age and documentation of the current number of dogs on the premises on each day; and
Keep and maintain at all times on its premises current and accurate records containing the name and address of the owner of each dog kept in the kennel if owned by someone other than the person maintaining the kennel.
Kennel license period. A kennel license shall be issued on an annual basis and must be renewed each year before April 15. Scheduling of all dates for inspections or permitting processes as outlined in this section shall be the sole responsibility of the kennel applicant.
Failure to license a kennel in the Town of Sterling may result in a criminal complaint being issued.
If any applicant is proven to have withheld or falsified any material information on the application or renewal form, the Town Clerk may refuse to issue or may revoke a kennel license.
The Town Clerk, upon receiving a written directive from the Board of Selectmen as the result of a public hearing that was based on information obtained from the Animal Control Officer regarding issues involving, but not limited to, any Board of Health violations with regard to kennel inspection(s) or a finding by the ACO of records not being properly kept as required by law, may revoke any license for a period of time to be determined by the Board of Selectmen or until such time as all violations are corrected and approved in writing by both the ACO and the Board of Selectmen.
It shall be the duty of every owner of an animal, or anyone having an animal in their possession or custody, to exercise reasonable care and to take all necessary steps and precautions to prevent any animal from being a nuisance and to protect people, property, and animals from injuries or damage which might result from their animal's behavior, regardless of whether such behavior is motivated by mischief, playfulness, or ferocity. In the event that the owner or keeper of any animal is a minor, the parent or guardian of such minor shall be responsible to ensure that all provisions of this bylaw are complied with.
While on property. It shall be the duty of every owner of any animal, or anyone having any animal in his possession or custody, to ensure that the animal is kept under restraint and that reasonable care and precautions are taken to prevent the animal from leaving, while unattended, the real property limits of its owner, possessor, or custodian, or the real property limits of another person with the knowledge and express permission of the owner of such property. Suggested methods to restrain an animal include the following: to provide that it is securely and humanely enclosed within a house, building, fence, pen, or other enclosure out of which it cannot climb, dig, jump, or otherwise escape on its own volition, and for such enclosure be securely locked at any time the animal is left unattended; to provide it is securely and humanely restrained by chain, cable and trolley or other tether of sufficient strength to prevent escape; or to provide for it to be on a leash and under control of a competent person, or if it is off leash it shall be obedient to that person's commands and that said person is present with the animal any time it is not restrained.
While off property or at large. It shall be the duty of every owner of any animal or anyone having an animal in his possession or custody to ensure that the animal is kept under restraint and control at all times while the animal is off the real property limits of the owners, possessors or custodian. For the purpose of this section, an animal is deemed under control when it is securely confined within a vehicle, parked or in motion; it is properly confined within a secure enclosure with permission of the owner of the property where the enclosure is located; it is securely restrained by a leash or other device held by a competent person; or it is under the direct control of the owner.
Abandonment or abuse of animals. It shall be unlawful for anyone to knowingly abandon or abuse any domesticated animal. Each person who does abandon or abuse knowingly, or willingly permits this abandonment or abuse or aids in the abandonment or abuse of any domesticated animal, shall be reported to the proper authority.
Additional requirements for dangerous animals. It shall be the duty of the owner to take the following precautions:
Whenever outside of its enclosure as provided for in Subsection A above, but on the owner's property, a dangerous animal must be attended by the owner and restrained by a secure collar and leash of sufficient strength to prevent escape.
No dangerous animal shall be chained, tethered, or otherwise tied to any inanimate object, such as a tree, post, or building, outside of its own enclosure as provided for in Subsection A above.
In addition to the requirements in Subsection A above, for owners of dangerous animals that maintain their animal out of doors, a portion of their property should be fenced with a perimeter or area fence. Within this perimeter fence, the dangerous animal must be humanely confined, as defined by MSPCA guidelines, inside a pen or kennel of adequate size. The pen or kennel may not share common fencing with the area or perimeter fence. The kennel or pen must have secure sides, a secure top attached to all sides, and the sides must either be buried two feet into the ground, sunken into a concrete pad, or securely attached to a wire bottom. The gate to the kennel must be locked. Failure to keep any animal confined or under restraint as provided for in this section shall be unlawful and shall be punishable as hereinafter provided.
Except when being transported in, and securely confined within a vehicle, no dangerous animal shall be permitted off the property of its owner, except when it is:
Failure to keep any animal under restraint or control as provided for in this section shall be unlawful and shall be punishable as hereinafter provided.
Enforcement of restrictions on dangerous animals. In the event that an Animal Control Officer or his designated agent has probable cause to believe that a dangerous animal is being harbored in violation of this bylaw, he may order the violation immediately corrected and charge the owner or keeper to appear in the appropriate area for the violation.
Penalties for violation and repeat offenders. Any person violating the terms of this section or rules and regulations promulgated pursuant thereto shall be subject to the following fine schedule: first offense, $10; second offense, $25; third and subsequent offenses, $50. Any offenses subsequent to the third offense shall require an appearance before the Animal Control Advisory Board. Repeat offenders of provisions relating to dangerous animals will be given an opportunity to fully explain to the Animal Control Advisory Board why a violation has been repeated.
The purpose of impound for any domestic animal is to allow time for owners to claim said animal. However, additional criteria such as an injured animal, a stray animal or a bylaw violation of § 18-6 by any animal(s) may also constitute the need to impound. In addition, when an animal is found in violation of § 18-6 and its ownership is verified by the Animal Control Officer, the ACO may exercise the option to serve the owner with a notice of violation and/or citation in lieu of impounding the animal. The decision to impound any animal(s) shall be the sole decision of the ACO. In the event that the Animal Control Officer finds dogs or cats to be suffering, the ACO shall have the right forthwith to remove or cause to have removed any such animal(s) to a safe place for care at the owner's expense or to euthanize them when necessary, subject to consultation with a licensed veterinarian, to prevent further suffering. Return to the owner may be withheld until the owner shall have made full payment for all expenses so incurred.
Duration of impound. Each animal impounded in the Municipal Impound may be held for a period of up to 48 hours. In the event that such animal's owner cannot be identified within 48 hours, said animal shall be deemed a stray animal and transferred as such to an approved animal facility for the remainder of the state-required ten-day holding period.
Redemption of impounded domestic animals. Upon presentation to the ACO of documented proof of ownership, the owner of any animal(s) impounded by the Sterling ACO may, anytime within seven days and upon payment of all accrued fees, charges or fines, redeem said animal(s). At such time a dated receipt will be given to the owner. Failure of an owner, or person(s) identified and verified by the ACO as the owner, to redeem any animal from impoundment or other approved facility does not relieve the owner's liability to the Town of Sterling for any accrued impoundment fees or veterinary charges accrued. Payment of impoundment fees is not considered to be in lieu of any fine, penalty or licenses fees and is to be in addition to any other approved animal facility charges or veterinary expenses incurred during impoundment. No animal required to be licensed or vaccinated under this bylaw may be redeemed until provisions for required licensing or vaccinations have been fulfilled and verified by the ACO as documented with the Town Clerk in the Town where the animal resides. Disposal by euthanasia of an impounded animal by any approved or veterinary facility does not relieve the owner of liability for payment to the Town of Sterling for any municipal impoundment fee, bylaw violation(s) citations, fines or any accrued other charges.
[Amended 5-3-2014 ATM by Art. 39, approved 8-20-2014]
Quarantine. Of any domestic animal impounded but then determined to require quarantine will be transferred to an approved animal facility for the duration of quarantine. Any animal confined for rabies quarantine and involving a human bite may be redeemed by the owner only upon release by the Animal Inspector. Any animal confined for rabies quarantine for reason other than a human bite, such as evidence or other purpose, may be redeemed by the owner upon release by the Animal Inspector or the Animal Control Officer.
Notification of impound. Notification of impound is the sole responsibility of the ACO and shall be done immediately upon the impounding of any domestic animal(s). The Animal Control Officer shall make every reasonable effort to identify the owner of the animal(s) and notify and inform such owner of all conditions required whereby custody of the animal may be regained.
Municipal impound records. The ACO shall be required to keep a detailed log/record of every animal impounded, veterinary expenses accrued while impounded and issue a copy or duplicate of a dated certificate of release upon redemption of said animal(s).
Municipal impound fee. The municipal impound fee shall be $15 per day per animal, issued as deemed applicable by the ACO.
Disposal or impoundment of an domestic animal. Disposal or impoundment of any domestic animal by any method specified herein or other approved facility does not relieve the owner of liability for payment to the Town of Sterling for violations and/or any accrued charges.
Any person may register or file a complaint to the Animal Control Officer (ACO) stating a dog owned or kept in the Town of Sterling is a nuisance dog, as defined in § 18-2 of this bylaw. The ACO shall investigate the complaint, or request the investigation thereof, including an examination under oath of the complainant be conducted by the Animal Control Advisory Board to determine whether the dog is a nuisance as alleged. There are two types of animal control complaints; formal and informal. A formal complaint will require a signed, detailed explanation of the complaint in writing and filed with the ACO on an approved complaint form.
Registering an informal complaint:
Any person may inform the Animal Control Officer by telephone through police dispatch, or by letter, of any animal control violation with the following information to be included:
The ACO shall make a log of all information received.
Follow-up action by the Animal Control Officer to all informal complaints shall be recorded in the ACO monthly report(s).
Filing a formal animal control complaint:
Official formal complaint forms shall be readily available upon request from the ACO and/or the Police Department. Formal complaint forms must be signed or they will not be acted upon. Official complaint forms shall be filed in person or by mail at the Sterling Police Station, c/o ACO, 135 Leominster Road, Sterling MA 01564.
Follow-up will be within 10 work days of dated receipt of any formal complaint by the ACO who shall make a progress report in writing to the complainant and retain a file copy.
If the complainant remains unsatisfied, he/she may refile the original complaint with the Animal Control Advisory Board, 1 Park Street, Sterling, MA 01564, to request an informational meeting be scheduled.
An adoption fee of $25 shall be assessed at the time of adoption. No dog or cat shall be released for adoption as a pet without first being neutered or spayed or without a written agreement from the adopter guaranteeing that the animal will be neutered or spayed. Vaccination fees, licensing fees, and veterinary costs shall be charged and are above and beyond the adoption fee.
The Board of Selectmen shall appoint at least three, but no more than seven, members to the Animal Control Advisory Board on an annual basis. This Board should include a cross section of the community and should also include individuals with professional knowledge pertinent to the member's responsibilities (for example, an attorney, veterinarian, police officer, humane society representative, etc.). Upon request from the Animal Control Officer, the Animal Control Advisory Board shall be charged to evaluate animal control problems by collecting necessary data, hearing expert opinion, holding public hearings, etc., and shall recommend solutions or actions necessary to resolve such problems. If resolution is not satisfactory at the level of the Advisory Board, the Animal Control Advisory Board will recommend the issue be brought to the Board of Selectmen for further review. It would also recommend appropriate rules and regulations for the care and control of animals and facilities covered by the bylaw and review budgets and contracts for animal control.
If any section, sentence, clause or phrase of this bylaw is for any reason held to be invalid or unconstitutional by a decision of any court of competent jurisdiction, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of these sections.
The Town of Sterling hereby finds, determines and declares that this bylaw is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public health, safety and welfare of the Town of Sterling and the inhabitants thereof.
All monies received by the Town for licenses for dogs or kennels, or recovered as fines or penalties by the Town either under Sterling's General Bylaws, Sterling's Protective Bylaws or under provisions of Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 140, or any law relating to the regulating of dogs, shall be paid to the general fund of the Town of Sterling.
Noncriminal dispositions (citations) pursuant to MGL c. 40, § 21D, are issued by the Animal Control Officers and or persons so designated to the owners of animals found to be in violation of any specified Sterling Animal Control Bylaw. Payment for citations should be made payable to the Town of Sterling and be mailed or paid in person to the Town Clerk of Sterling at the Town offices.