[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town of Amesbury as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted as Art. 25 of the 1990 Bylaws]
Any owner of a dog six months or older in the Town of Amesbury shall cause that dog to be licensed as required by MGL c. 140 commencing on April 1 of each year.
The owner of a dog that is currently licensed in another town within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts may obtain a transfer license and tag by turning in the other license and tag and paying a fee of $1.
If a tag is lost a duplicate tag may be obtained from the Clerk's office for a fee of $1.
No fee shall be charged for a license for a dog specifically trained to lead or serve a blind person or a deaf person, provided that the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind or the Director of the Office of Deafness certifies that such dog is trained and actually in the service of a deaf or blind person.
No fee shall be charged for a license for a dog specifically trained for, and in service as, a Police Department K-9, provided that the Chief of the Police Department or station commander certifies that such dog is so trained and actually in the service of a Police Department.
No license fee or part thereof shall be refunded because of subsequent death, loss, spaying, neutering or removal from the Town of Amesbury, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or other disposal of the dog.
When applying for a license, the applicant must show proof of rabies vaccination by a veterinarian certificate dated within the last three years, if the dog is six months of age or over, as required by MGL c. 140, § 145B and any subsequent amendments thereto.
No person shall own or keep within the City any dog which by biting, barking, howling, or in any other manner disturbs the peace and quiet of any neighborhood or endangers the safety of any person or domesticated animal or farm animal.
No person owning or keeping a dog in the City shall allow such dog to roam at large upon the land of another, except if it is on the premises of another person with the knowledge and permission of such other person, nor allow such dog to roam at large on any portion of the public highway.
Such owner or keeper of a dog in the City which is not on the premises of the owner or upon the premises of another person with the knowledge and permission of such other person shall restrain such dog by chain or leash not exceeding six feet in length.
Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit or prohibit the use of hunting dogs during the open hunting season or the training of hunting dogs or the holding of field trials for hunting dogs.
Any dog found running at large will be placed in a suitable pound and will not be released to its owner until a pickup charge of $10 for the first pickup, $25 for the second pickup and $30 for each subsequent pickup and a daily boarding fee of $10 has been paid to the City. Any owner or keeper of a dog who permits the same to run at large in violation of this article shall be fined as provided in § 1-2 of this Code.
If any person shall make a complaint in writing to the Animal Control Officer that any dog owned or harbored within his jurisdiction is a nuisance by reason of vicious disposition or excessive barking or other disturbances, the Animal Control Officer shall investigate such complaint, which may include an examination under oath of the complainant, and submit a written report to the Municipal Council of his findings and recommendations, together with the written complaint. Upon receipt of such report and examination of the complainant under oath, the Municipal Council may make such an order concerning the restraint, muzzling or disposal of such dog as may be deemed necessary. The Animal Control Officer, after investigation, may issue an interim order that such dog be restrained or muzzled for a period not to exceed 14 days to enable the Municipal Council to issue its order following receipt of the report of the Animal Control Officer. If the Municipal Council fails to act during the period of the interim order, upon expiration of the period the interim order automatically is vacated.
The Animal Control Officer may restrain or muzzle, or issue an interim order to restrain or muzzle, for a period not to exceed 14 days, any dog for any of the following reasons:
Having bitten any person.
If found at large or unmuzzled, as the case may be, while an order for the restraint of such dog is in effect.
If found in a school, schoolyard, or public recreational area.
For having killed, maimed or otherwise damaged any other domesticated animal.
For chasing any vehicle upon any public way or way open to public travel in the City.
Upon restraining or muzzling, or issuing an interim order to restrain or muzzle, the Animal Control Officer shall submit a written report to the Municipal Council of his action and the reasons therefor. Upon receipt of such report, the Municipal Council may make such an order concerning the restraint, muzzling or disposal of such dog as may be deemed necessary. If the Municipal Council fails to act during the period of the interim order, upon expiration of the period, the interim order automatically is vacated.
The owner or keeper of any dog that has been ordered to be restrained or muzzled or has been restrained under this article may file a request in writing with the Animal Control Officer that the restraining order be vacated or that the dog be released. After investigation by the Animal Control Officer, such officer may vacate such order or release such dog, if the order or restraint was imposed by him. If the order or restraint was imposed by the Municipal Council, the Animal Control Officer shall submit a written report of his investigation, with his recommendations, to the Municipal Council which may vacate the order.
In addition to any other statutory authority in MGL c. 140, the Animal Control Officer may enter a complaint before the Municipal Council for the purpose of obtaining an order with respect to the control or disposition of a dog found to be uncontrollable or whose owner or keeper is unresponsive to any other penalties contained in this article.
All fees and/or fines collected in relation to the control of dogs within the Town of Amesbury, unless controlled by law, shall be deposited with the Treasurer of the City and deposited as part of the general fund.
The owner of any dog that is sold or given away, or whose custody is otherwise transferred, to any other resident of the City shall provide said resident with a copy of all medical records, licenses and the like for said dog.
Any resident of the City who buys or accepts custody of any dog previously registered in the City shall notify the City Clerk within 30 days of said transfer.
In addition to the charges outlined in § 204-8, the owner of any unspayed and unleashed female dog found to be roaming at large in season (heat) off the premises of the owner or keeper shall be subject to a penalty as provided in § 1-2 of this Code.
Each person who owns, keeps or controls a dog within the City shall remove and dispose of any feces left by such dog on any sidewalk, street, park or other public area, or on any private property which is not owned or occupied by such person.
No person who owns, keeps or controls a dog within the City shall permit such dog to be on any sidewalk, street, park or other public area unless such dog is accompanied by a person carrying a device which is suitable for picking up and containing feces, unexposed to such person and to the general public.
This section shall not apply to a dog accompanying any handicapped person who, by reason of a handicap, is physically unable to comply with the requirements of such section.
No person shall knowingly permit any horses, cattle, swine, sheep, goats, poultry or other livestock under his care to feed by the roadside or to roam at large upon the land of another, except if it is on the premises of another person with the knowledge and permission of such other person, nor allow such animal to roam at large on any portion of any public highway.
[Adopted as Art. 39 of the 1990 Bylaws]
It is hereby declared that vicious dogs have become a serious and widespread threat to the safety and welfare of the citizens of the Town of Amesbury, in that vicious dogs have in recent years assaulted without provocation and seriously injured numerous individuals, particularly children, and have killed numerous dogs. Many of these attacks have occurred in public places.
The number and severity of these attacks are also attributable to the failure of owners to register, confine and properly control vicious dogs.
It is further declared that the owning, keeping or harboring of vicious dogs is a nuisance.
It is further declared that, because of the danger posed to the public health, safety and welfare by vicious dogs, this article constitutes an emergency measure providing for the immediate preservation of the public health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the Town of Amesbury.
As used in §§ 204-18 through 204-25, inclusive, of this article, the following words and terms shall have the following meanings, unless the context shall indicate another or different meaning or intent:
- ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER
- Any person designated by the Mayor and may be a police officer or constable.
- A fence or structure of at least six feet in height suitable to prevent the entry of young children and confine a vicious dog. "Enclosure" also means other measures which may be taken by the owner or keeper, such as tethering of the vicious dog. Such enclosure shall be securely enclosed and locked and designed with secure sides, top and bottom and shall be designed to prevent the animal from escaping from the enclosure.
- Taken into the custody of the public pound.
- A device constructed of strong soft material or a metal muzzle. Such muzzle may not interfere with the vision or respiration of any dog, nor shall it cause any injury to the dog. It must prevent the dog from biting any animal or person.
- A natural person or any legal entity, including but not limited to a corporation, firm, partnership or trust.
- A. Any dog:
- (1) That when unprovoked inflicts bites or attacks a human being or other animals, either on public or private property, or in a vicious or terrorizing manner approaches any person in apparent attitude of attack upon the streets or sidewalks or in any public grounds or places;
- (2) With a known propensity, tendency or disposition to attack unprovoked, to cause injury or to otherwise endanger the safety of human beings or domestic animals;
- (3) Which attacks a human being or domestic animal without provocation;
- (4) Owned or harbored primarily or in part for the purpose of dog fighting, or any dog trained for dog fighting; or
- (5) Not licensed according to City law.
- B. "Vicious dog" includes the breed of dog known as the "American Staffordshire pit bull," "pit bull terrier," "bull terrier" or the "American pit bull."
Every dog six months or older shall be licensed pursuant to MGL c. 140, § 137. No vicious dog shall be licensed by the Town of Amesbury for a licensing period commencing after January 1987 unless the owner or keeper of such vicious dog shall meet the following requirements:
The owner or keeper shall present to the City Clerk or other licensing authority proof that the owner or keeper has procured liability insurance in the amount of at least $100,000 covering any damage or injury which may be caused by such vicious dog during the twelve-month period for which licensing is sought. The policy shall contain a provision requiring the City to be named as an additional insured for the sole purpose of the City Clerk or other licensing authority to be notified by the insurance company of any cancellation, termination or expiration of the liability insurance policy.
The owner or keeper shall maintain and not voluntarily cancel the liability insurance required by Subsection A during the twelve-month period for which licensing is sought, unless the owner or keeper shall cease to own or keep the vicious dog prior to expiration of such license.
The owner or keeper shall have a licensing number assigned to any vicious dog, or such other identification number as the City Clerk or other licensing authority shall determine. That number shall be noted on the City licensing files for such vicious dog.
The owner or keeper shall display a sign on his or her premises warning that there is a vicious dog on the premises. The sign shall be visible and capable of being read from the public highway or roadway.
The owner or keeper shall, on or prior to the effective date of such license for which application is being made, have a fenced enclosure for the vicious dog on the property where the vicious dog will be kept or maintained.
The owner or keeper shall notify the licensing authority within 24 hours if a vicious dog is unconfined, has attacked another animal or has attacked a human, or has died or has been sold or given away. If the vicious dog has been sold or given away, the owner or keeper shall also provide the licensing authority with the name, address and telephone number of the new dog owner of the vicious dog.
The Animal Control Officer is hereby empowered to make whatever inquiry is deemed necessary to ensure compliance with the provision of this article, and such Animal Control Officer is hereby empowered to seize and impound any vicious dog whose owner or keeper fails to comply with the provisions hereof.
All vicious dogs shall be confined in an enclosure. It shall be unlawful for any owner or keeper to maintain a vicious dog upon any premises which does not have a locked enclosure.
It shall be unlawful for any owner or keeper to allow any vicious dog to be outside of the dwelling of the owner or outside of the enclosure, unless necessary for the owner to obtain veterinary care for the vicious dog, or to sell or give away the vicious dog, or to comply with commands or directions of the Animal Control Officer with respect to the vicious dog, or to comply with provisions of this article. In such event, the vicious dog shall be securely muzzled and restrained with a chain having a minimum tensile strength of 300 pounds and not exceeding three feet in length and shall be under the direct control and supervision of the owner or keeper of the vicious dog.
No person shall own or harbor any dog for the purpose of dog fighting or train, torment, badger, bait or use any dog for the purpose of causing or encouraging said dog to unprovoked attacks upon human beings or domestic animals.
In the event that the Animal Control Officer or a law enforcement agent has cause to believe that a vicious dog is being harbored or cared for in violation of this article, the Animal Control Officer or law enforcement agent may order the seizure and impoundment of the vicious dog pending trial.
If any vicious dog shall kill or wound, or assist in killing or wounding, any sheep, lamb, cattle, horse, hog, swine, fowl or other domestic animal belonging to or in the possession of any person, or shall attack, assault, bite or otherwise injure any person, or assist in attacking, assaulting, biting or otherwise injuring any person while out of or within the enclosure, whether or not such vicious dog escaped without fault of the owner or keeper, the owner or keeper shall be liable to the person aggrieved for all damages sustained, pursuant to MGL. c. 140, § 155.
Upon attack or assault by a vicious dog, the Animal Control Officer of the City is hereby empowered to confiscate and destroy the vicious dog after a hearing as provided by § 204-25 of this article, if the conduct of such vicious dog or its owner or keeper constituted a violation of the provisions of this article.
Any vicious dog, except those ruled vicious for violation of Subsection A(5) of the definition of "vicious dog" in § 204-19 solely, whose owner or keeper does not secure the liability insurance coverage required in accordance with § 204-20A(1) of this article, or which is not maintained on property with an enclosure, or which shall be outside of the dwelling of the owner or keeper or outside of an enclosure, except as provided in § 204-21B, may be confiscated by the Animal Control Officer and be destroyed in an expeditious and humane manner after a hearing as provided by this section. In addition, the owner or keeper shall pay a fine as provided in § 1-2 of this Code.
If any vicious dog shall kill, wound or assist in killing or wounding any domestic animal, as described in § 204-24A of this article, the owner or keeper of said dog shall pay a fine as provided in § 1-2 of this Code. The Animal Control Officer is empowered to confiscate and destroy said vicious dog after a hearing as provided in this section.
If any vicious dog shall attack, assault, wound, bite or otherwise injure or kill a person, the owner or keeper of said dog shall pay a fine as provided in § 1-2 of this Code. The Animal Control Officer is empowered to confiscate and destroy said vicious dog after a hearing as provided in this section.
All fines paid pursuant to this section shall be paid to the Town of Amesbury.
No dog shall be destroyed within 10 days of being impounded:
If the owner or keeper of an animal impounded for an alleged violation of §§ 204-20 to 204-24 inclusive of this article believes that there has not been a violation of such sections, the owner or keeper may file a complaint in the District Court. The impounded dog shall not be destroyed pending resolution of the owner's or keeper's complaint if the complaint shall have been filed within 10 days of impoundment of such dog. If the Court shall find that there shall not have been a violation of §§ 204-20 to 204-24 inclusive of this article, such dog may be released to the custody of the owner or keeper upon payment to the poundkeeper of the expense of keeping such dog, as determined in accordance with MGL c. 140, § 157.