[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Fall River 7-26-2002 by Ord. No. 2002-23 (Ch. 6 of the 1999 Revised Ordinances). Amendments noted where applicable.]
Unless otherwise set out in this chapter, any term defined in MGL c. 140, § 136A shall have the same meaning in this chapter, and shall be expressly incorporated herein.
- AT LARGE
- Off the premises of the owner, and not under the control of the owner or authorized escort either by leash, cord or chain.
- DANGEROUS OR VICIOUS ANIMAL
- Any animal that may be at large and/or with the same or similar dangerous or vicious propensities as a dangerous or vicious dog. Any provisions of this chapter applicable to dangerous or vicious dogs shall be applicable to a dangerous or vicious animal.
- A. Any dog which, according to the records of the appropriate authority, has inflicted severe injury on a human being without provocation on public or private property.
- B. Any dog which, according to the records of the appropriate authority, has killed a domestic animal without provocation while off the owner's property.
- C. Any dog owned or harbored on property known for drug trafficking or gang activity.
- D. Any dog which, when unprovoked, chases or approaches a person upon the streets, sidewalks or any public or private property in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack.
- E. Any dog with known propensity, tendency or disposition according to the records of the appropriate authority to attack unprovoked, to cause injury, or to otherwise threaten the safety of human beings or domestic animals.
- F. Any dog which bites or attacks any persons.
- Is intended to mean both male and female.
- DOG OFFICER
- The animal control officer in the City of Fall River.
- DOG TRAINED FOR FIGHTING
- Any dog owned or kept primarily or in part for the purpose of dog fighting or any dog trained for dog fighting.
- Any premises wherein any person, partnership or corporation
engages in the business of boarding, breeding, buying, selling for
hire, training for a fee, selling dogs, or engages in training dogs
for guard or sentry purposes, or every pack or collection of more
than four dogs three months old or over owned or kept on a single
premises irrespective of the purpose for which they are maintained.[Amended 10-24-2017 by Ord. No. 2017-24]
- LICENSE PERIOD
- The license period shall be from April 1 of each year to March 31 of the following year.
- LICENSING AUTHORITY
- The City Clerk, as provided by the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
- A. Any animal which molests passersby or passing vehicles, including bicycles.
- B. Any animal which attacks other animals.
- C. Any animal which trespasses on school grounds.
- D. Any animal which is at large in violation of this chapter.
- E. Any animal which damages private or public property.
- F. Any animal which barks, whines, or howls and disturbs the peace and tranquility of an area as provided in § 6-14.
- G. Any dog which, on three separate occasions within a twelve-month period, has been observed being unrestrained or uncontrolled off its owner's premises as documented by the records of the animal control officer for being unrestrained or uncontrolled off its owner's premises.
- Any person or persons, firm, partnership, or corporation owning, keeping, possessing, controlling or harboring one or more animals. An animal shall be deemed to be harbored if it is fed or sheltered for 10 days.
- Any person or persons, or any firms, associations, or corporations.
- A leash not more than six feet long, or a fenced-in area or pen as provided in this chapter.
- UNTAGGED ANIMAL
- An animal is considered to be untagged if a valid license tag is not attached to a collar which is kept on the animal.
A person who at the commencement of a license period is, or who during any license period becomes, the owner or keeper of a dog four months old or over which is not duly licensed, and the owner or keeper of a dog when it becomes four months old during a license period, shall cause it to be registered, numbered described and licensed until the end of such license period, and the owner or keeper of a dog so registered, numbered, described and licensed during any license period shall, before the beginning thereof, cause it to be registered, numbered, described and licensed for such period. The registering, numbering, describing and licensing of a dog shall be done at the office of the City Clerk on a form prescribed and supplied by the City Clerk, and shall be subject to the condition expressed therein that the dog which is the subject of the license shall be controlled and restrained from killing, chasing or harassing livestock or fowl. The City Clerk shall not grant such license for any dog unless the owner thereof provides the City Clerk with either a veterinarian's certification that such dog has been vaccinated in accordance with the provisions of MGL c. 140, § 145B or has been certified exempt from such provisions as outlined in MGL c. 140, § 137 or 137A, or a notarized letter from a veterinarian that a certificate was issued bearing an expiration date indicating that such certification is still in effect. The owner or keeper of a licensed dog shall cause it to wear around its neck or body a collar or harness or leather or other suitable material, to which shall be securely attached a tag in a form prescribed by and issued by the City Clerk when a license is issued. Such tag shall state the following: 1) City of Fall River, 2) year of issue, and 3) tag number. If any such tag shall be lost, the owner or keeper of such dog shall forthwith secure a substitute tag from the City Clerk at a cost set forth in Chapter A110, Fee Schedule, of the City Code. This section shall not apply where it is otherwise provided by law, nor shall it apply to a person having a kennel license.
The provision of MGL c. 140, § 138, as amended, shall be expressly incorporated herewith and shall henceforth apply under this chapter.
A license duly recorded shall be valid throughout the commonwealth, except that, in the case of the permanent moving of a dog into the City, the owner or keeper thereof shall, within 30 days after such moving, present the original license and tag of such dog to the City Clerk and the City 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 a fee as set forth in Chapter A110, Fee Schedule, of the City Code. The provisions of this chapter relative to the form and furnishing of licenses and tags shall apply to licenses and tags issued under this subsection.
Any person maintaining a kennel shall have a kennel license.
Any person who meets any requirement of the Code of the City of Fall River and MGL c. 140, § 137A, upon application and approved inspection, may obtain a kennel license from the City Clerk on a form prescribed and supplied by the City Clerk and for a fee as set forth in Chapter A110, Fee Schedule, of the City Code. The City Clerk shall, upon application and approved inspection, issue a license without charge to any domestic charitable corporation incorporated exclusively for the purpose of protecting animals from cruelty, neglect or abuse for the relief of suffering among animals. Prior to the issuance of any kennel license, an inspection shall be made by the animal control officer and the animal health inspector.
The provisions of MGL c. 140, § 137B, as amended, shall be expressly incorporated under this chapter.
The Chief of Police or dog officer may at any time inspect or cause to be inspected any kennel and if, in either or both opinions, the same is not being maintained in a sanitary and humane manner, or if records are not properly kept as required by law, shall file with the City Council a petition setting forth the facts, and the City Council shall upon this petition, or upon the petition of 25 citizens setting forth that they are aggrieved, or annoyed to an unreasonable extent, by one or more dogs at a kennel maintained in the City, because of excessive barking or the vicious disposition of said dogs or other conditions connected with such kennel constituting a public nuisance, within seven days after the filing of such petition, give notice to all parties in interest of a public hearing to be held within 14 days after the date of such notice. Within seven days after such public hearing said City Council shall make an order either revoking or suspending such kennel license, or dismissing said petition. Within 10 days after such order the holder of such license may bring a petition to the District Court in Fall River, as outlined in MGL c. 140, § 137C. Any person maintaining a kennel after the license therefor has been so revoked, or while such license is so suspended, shall be punished by a fine as set forth in § 6-12 of this chapter. The City Council may, in the case of any suspension, reinstate such license.
The provision of MGL c. 140, § 137D, as amended, shall be expressly incorporated under this chapter.
All kennels shall be limited to a total of 25 dogs to be maintained on said premises. It shall be a violation of this chapter to have any dogs on the premises over the above said number.
The fee for every dog license shall be as set forth in Chapter A110, Fee Schedule, of the City Code.
The determination of licensing eligibility, dogs not required to be licensed, or refunding fees shall be determined as set out in MGL c. 140, § 139.
The fee for every kennel license shall be as set forth in Chapter A110, Fee Schedule, of the City Code.
In addition to all other sums due and owing for any license fee hereunder, a person who applies for license hereunder shall be obligated to pay all prior amounts of license fees determined to be due and owing by the City Clerk pursuant to this chapter, for past periods in which said person was obligated to obtain a license. It shall be a violation of this chapter to fail to pay any sum due hereunder; this remedy shall be cumulative.
[Amended 6-19-2006 by Ord. No. 2006-15]
There shall be an Office of Animal Care and Control Services (ACCO) under the control and jurisdiction of the Fall River Police Department. This office shall consist of the following employees: 1) Supervisor of Animal Control; and 2) animal control officers. The Supervisor of Animal Control shall report directly to the Chief of Police. The animal control officers shall report to the Supervisor of Animal Control for routine and emergency matters weekdays, and to the Fall River Police Department when the Supervisor is unavailable.
Duties and responsibilities. The employees of this department shall enforce all ordinances pertaining to animal welfare and control, as outlined in this chapter, including, but not limited to, §§ 6-1 through 6-20, as well as any applicable Massachusetts General Laws pertaining to animal welfare and control. The Supervisor of Animal Control shall, within his first year of employment, become a certified animal control officer through the New England Animal Control Humane Academy or its equivalent.
No person shall interfere with, hinder or molest the dog officer or any police officer of this City in the performance of his duties under this chapter, or seek to release any animal in the custody of the dog officer or any police officer, except as provided in this chapter. Violators of this section shall be subject to a penalty as set forth in § 6-12 of this chapter.
In the discharge of the duties imposed by this chapter, the dog officer or any police officer of this City shall have the authority at all reasonable times to enter upon any premises, but such authority should not include the right to enter any residence on such premises, to examine a dog or other animal which is allegedly in violation of a provision of this chapter. Such officer shall have the further authority to take possession of any such dog or other animal and remove it from such premises.
It shall be unlawful to abandon any animal within the City limits. Violators of this section shall be subject to a penalty as set forth in § 6-12 of this chapter.
No owner or keeper of any dog shall permit such dog to run at large at any time. The provisions of this section shall not be intended to apply to dogs participating in any dog show, nor to Seeing Eye dogs properly trained to assist blind persons for the purpose of aiding them in going from place to place, nor to any dogs properly trained and under control for aiding the deaf, nor to any dogs being trained or actually being used for hunting purposes.
Nothing contained in the foregoing subsection shall prevent the City Council from approving any order authorized by Massachusetts General Laws or by MGL c. 140, § 167 at such times as the Council shall deem it necessary to safeguard the public. Violators of this section shall be subject to a penalty as set forth in § 6-12 of this chapter.
Every owner or keeper of a dog shall exercise proper care and control of his or her dog so as to prevent said dog from becoming a public nuisance. It shall be deemed a public nuisance if any dog should trespass upon public or private property and deposit feces thereon, unless said feces are immediately removed by the owner or keeper of said dog. All dogs shall be kept under restraint, as defined in this chapter, including all dogs on any public properties, including parks, playgrounds, or cemeteries. Every owner shall exercise proper control and care of his animals to prevent them from becoming a nuisance animal.
The dog officer shall seek out, catch and confine all dogs within the City of Fall River that have not been licensed within 60 days of the time the dog is required to be licensed under this chapter; and shall seek out, catch and confine for 10 days maximum any dogs within the City that are found on public property, or on private property where said dog is trespassing and the owner or person in control of such property wants the dog removed, said dogs being in violation of this requirement of this chapter; and shall seek out, catch and confine any dog within the City which dog was cited for a violation of any provision of this chapter, and the owner or keeper has failed within 21 days of a determination by the District Court that any sums are due for a violation of this chapter and has failed to pay said sums.
Any owner or keeper of any dog who refuses to turn over any dog to the dog officer upon demand, any seeking out, catching or confinement authorized in the subsection above, shall be punished by a fine of $100. Each day that said violation continues shall constitute a separate offense.
It shall be the duty of the animal control officer to apprehend and impound any unlicensed dogs. When the dog is impounded by the City, the owner reclaiming the dog shall be required to pay all fines and damages owed to the City of Fall River before the dog is released.
It shall be the duty of the animal control officer to apprehend any dangerous or vicious dogs running at large. Any dangerous or vicious dog found running at large shall be impounded and may be returned to its owner only upon proof of registration as a dangerous or vicious dog. The animal control officer or any police officer may shoot a dog if the dog attacks the officer or approaches the officer in a menacing fashion so that the officer reasonably believes that the dog is about to attack.
In any event, when a dog is impounded, the impounding authority shall give notice to the owner of the impoundment and advise the owner whether and under what circumstances the dog may be redeemed. The owner of any animal impounded, confined, or destroyed pursuant to the terms of this section shall be responsible for all costs of such confinement, impoundment or destruction.
Any dog confined by the dog officer, unless picked up by the owner, shall be kept for at least 10 days, at which time said dog may be disposed of in an authorized manner determined by the City Administrator. At the end of the 10 days, the dog officer will transfer any undiseased dog to an authorized shelter for possible adoption. Any dog confined by the dog officer shall not be released to the owner until the owner produces evidence of a current dog license, and pays a sum equal to the per-day contract fee for care of the animal, with each day or part of a day counted as one day.
All the provisions of MGL c. 140, §§ 167 and 168 shall be incorporated into this chapter, except that any dog held under the provisions of MGL c. 140, § 167 may not be released until all the requirements of this chapter regarding licensing and the fee for care of the animal are complied with. All other provisions of MGL c. 140, §§ 167 and 168 shall be incorporated herein.
The dog officer (animal control officer) or any police officer of the City of Fall River shall be enforcement officer for any violation of this chapter. Such enforcement officer shall, in addition to any pickup of the dog pursuant to this chapter, issue a citation to the owner or keeper of any dog violating the provisions of the leash law requirements of this chapter. Any such citation shall include, in addition to the violation charged, the name and address of the owner or keeper of the dog, the date, time and location of the alleged offense, and the amount of the penalty due. Said citation shall be on a form prescribed by and furnished by the Chief of Police and dog officer.
The owner or keeper of a dog that receives a citation under this chapter, may within 21 days, confess to the offense charged personally or through a duly authorized agent or by mailing to the City Clerk said citation along with payment in the amount as authorized under § 6-12 of this chapter. Said payment, if made through the mail, shall be by postal note, money order or check. The payment to the City Clerk shall operate as a final disposition of the case, when such payment is actually received by the City Clerk. If such person, when issued a citation, desires to contest the violation through the informal disposition process, he may, within 21 days of said issuance, request a hearing with the Director of Municipal Services or a hearing officer appointed by said director, and may present, either in person or by counsel, any evidence he may have to refute the allegation contained in the citation. At such hearing, the director or hearing officer shall make a determination as to the facts of the allegation, and said determination shall be final regarding the informal disposition process.
The following penalties (fines), except where indicated herein, shall be in effect for violations of the provisions of this chapter:
Failure to leash dog (MGL c. 140, § 173): $25.
Barking/Nuisance dog (MGL c. 140, § 157): $25.
Failure to license (MGL c. 140, § 137; 141): $20.
Failure to vaccinate (MGL c. 140, § 145B): $50.
Failure to remove animal waste (MGL c. 140, § 173): $25.
Failure to muzzle/restrain vicious dog (MGL c. 140, § 167): $100.
Dog trained for fighting (MGL c. 140, § 173): $200.
Abandonment (MGL c. 140, § 173): $50.
Interference with enforcement officer (MGL c. 140, § 147): $50.
Persons authorized or directed by MGL c. 51, § 4, or by any special law, to make lists of persons three years of age or older shall make a list of all dogs owned by inhabitants of the City of Fall River at the time of making lists required under such section and return same in duplicate to the City Clerk on or before April 1. An owner or keeper of a dog who refuses to answer or who answers falsely to persons directed or authorized to make a list of owners of dogs shall be punished by a fine of $50.
Nighttime repetitive barking. An owner, as that term is defined under § 6-1, shall not allow his dog to bark in the open, outside of any building, repetitively for more than 30 minutes during the nighttime quiet hours between 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.
Nuisance and/or excessive barking. Nuisance and/or excessive barking by any dog during the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. due to owner neglect, as determined by the animal control officer, shall be subject to the fines provided in Subsection C hereof.
A dangerous or vicious dog, as the term is used in this section, shall mean any dog defined as such under § 6-1 of this chapter.
While on the owner's property, a dangerous or vicious dog must be securely confined indoors or in a securely enclosed and locked pen or structure, suitable to prevent the entry of young children, and designed to prevent the dog from escaping. Such pen or structure must have a minimum dimension of five feet by 10 feet and must have secure sides and a secure top. If it has no bottom secured to the sides, the sides must be imbedded into the ground no less than two feet. The enclosure must also provide protection from the elements for the dog.
The owner or keeper shall display a sign on his premises facing out from all sides of the premises warning that there is a dangerous or vicious dog on the property. The sign should be visible and capable of being read from a public highway or thoroughfare or within 20 feet of its placement. In addition, the owner shall conspicuously display a sign with a symbol warning children who cannot read of the presence of a dangerous or vicious dog.
A dangerous or vicious dog may be off the owner's premises if it is muzzled and restrained by an approved lead or chain not exceeding three feet in length and is under the control of an adult, able-bodied person. The muzzle must be made in a manner that will not cause injury to the dog or interfere with its vision or respiration, but must prevent it from biting any person or animal.
The provisions of the article regarding dangerous or vicious dogs shall not apply to animals owned by law enforcement agencies and used for law enforcement purposes.
An owner may transport a dangerous or vicious dog within the City limits for medical or veterinary care, provided said animal is properly restrained by being both muzzled and leashed, with the leash not to exceed a length of three feet.
The owner of any dangerous or vicious dog, if said dog is found uncontrolled as provided in Subsection B above and off the property on property not owned or controlled by the owner, or not restrained in a secure area per Subsection B of this section, shall be subject to a fine as set forth in § 6-12 of this chapter. In addition, said animal shall be forever banned from within the limits of the City of Fall River by the animal control officer.
Owners of dangerous or vicious dogs found within the City of Fall River and not properly registered shall be subject to a fine as set forth in § 6-12 of this chapter, and said animal shall be forever banned from within the limits of the City by the animal control officer.
Any dog for which the animal control officer of the City or county has a verified report of having attacked or bitten any person shall be considered a dangerous or vicious dog. A copy of any such report shall be forwarded to the City Clerk, the animal control officer and the Police Department for filing and such dog shall not be reregistered in the City unless the owner is in full compliance with this chapter.
Compliance with the requirements of this section shall not be a defense to an order of disposal of a vicious dog pursuant to MGL c. 140, § 157.
All notice and hearing procedures will be carried out in conformance with MGL c. 140, § 157.
Any person having knowledge which he believes constitutes probable cause to believe that another is harboring, keeping or maintaining a dangerous or vicious dog which is not registered with and licensed by the City of Fall River in accordance with this chapter shall file with the Police Department or the animal control officer a sworn affidavit setting forth the basis on which he believes the animal to be a dangerous or vicious dog, the name and address of the owner of the dog, and a description of the dog. The Police Department or the animal control officer shall, upon a receipt of such affidavit, inquire of the City Clerk if the dog is currently registered as a dangerous or vicious dog pursuant to this chapter. If the dog is not registered, the City Clerk will notify the Police Department and the animal control officer of this fact and the Police Department or animal control officer shall serve notice upon the owner of the alleged dangerous or vicious dog, which notice shall include the requirement that the owner shall bring the dog to the veterinarian stated in the aforementioned notice for inspection to determine whether the dog is a dangerous or vicious dog by definition as set forth in this chapter. The names and addresses of the complaining witnesses shall remain confidential, the property of law enforcement officials only, and shall not be released without their consent.
All owners of dangerous or vicious dogs shall, on or before April 1 of each year, register their dog and provide a current color photograph of the dog to the City Clerk's office and pay the registration fee required by ordinance. At the time of registration, each owner of any dangerous or vicious dog kept within the City limits of the City of Fall River shall provide to the City Clerk's office proof of liability insurance in the amount of at least $100,000 for any acts of property damage or liability incurred by virtue of injury inflicted by such dog. Such insurance shall name the City as co-insured solely for the purpose of notice of cancellation of the policy. Said license shall indicate that the dog is a dangerous or vicious dog.
Any dog found within the limits of the City of Fall River, as determined by the animal control officer or any police officer, to be a dog trained for fighting, as that term is defined under § 6-1, shall be impounded and destroyed by the animal control officer. The animal control officer or any police officer may shoot any dog trained for fighting at any time, if it is reasonably believed that said dog approaches the officer in a menacing fashion and/or the officer reasonably believes that the dog is about to attack. An owner or keeper of a dog trained for fighting shall be subject to a fine of $200.
The owner of every dog shall be responsible for the removal of any fecal matter deposited by the owner's animal(s) on his property, public walks, recreation areas or private property. Any violators of this section shall be subject to a penalty as set forth in § 6-12 of this chapter.
The owner or person(s) who possesses or controls the dog when appearing with the dog on any public walk, street, recreation area or private property shall possess the means of removal of any fecal matter left by such dog.
For purposes of this regulation, the means of removal shall include any tool, implement or other device carried for the purpose of picking up and containing such fecal matter. Disposal shall be accomplished by transporting such fecal matter to a place suitable and regularly reserved for the disposal of human fecal matter, specifically reserved for disposal of dog fecal matter or otherwise designated as appropriate by the Director of Public Health.
When any domestic animal dies, its owner shall cause the animal to be removed to an animal rendering company or buried within 72 hours of the death of the animal. The administrative and disposal fee shall be as set forth in Chapter A110, Fee Schedule, of the City Code, payable within 30 days to the City of Fall River.
No wild animal, reptile or snake, imported or indigenous, may be kept within the City limits, except under such conditions as shall be fixed by the animal control officer. Wild animals may be kept for exhibition purposes by circuses, zoos, and educational institutions, in accordance with such regulations as shall be established by the animal control officer. Any wild animal which escapes and is found at large within the limits of the City of Fall River may be destroyed by the animal control officer or any police officer.
Any person who carries, leads or causes a wild animal, reptile or snake to be conveyed over a public way, unless properly secured in some covered vehicle or cage, shall be punished by a fine of not less than $50. Any such animal, reptile or snake which is found upon a public way not so secured may be destroyed by the animal control officer or any police officer.
Except as specifically modified in this chapter, the provisions of the following sections of Chapter 140 of the Massachusetts General Laws shall be incorporated into and apply to this chapter: §§ 145B, 149, 155, 155A, 156, 157, 158, 159, 160, 161A, 168, 174A, 174B, and 174D, as well as any other section of Massachusetts General Laws referenced herein (MGL c. 140, §§ 145B, 149, 155, 155A, 156 through 160, 161A, 168, 174A, 174B, and 174D).
Severability is intended throughout and within the provisions of this chapter. If any provision, including any exception, part, phrase or term or the application to any person or circumstances is held to be invalid, other provisions or the application to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected thereby. It is intended that the chapter would not be applied where its application would be deemed unconstitutional.
All provisions of the Code of the City of Fall River, Massachusetts, as amended, which are consistent with this chapter shall continue in effect, but all provisions inconsistent herewith are repealed.