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Town of Chelmsford, MA
Middlesex County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Meeting of the Town of Chelmsford as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 5-5-1986 ATM by Art. 17]
Any reference to a section number in this article shall mean Chapter 140 of the Massachusetts General Laws, unless otherwise stated.
A. 
Unless otherwise set out in this article, any term defined in § 136A shall have the same meaning in this article and shall be expressly incorporated herein.
B. 
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
AT LARGE
Off the premises of the owner and not under the control of the owner or authorized escort either by leash, cord, chain or otherwise.
LICENSE PERIOD
From January 1 of each year to December 31 of the same year.
OWNER
Any person or persons, firm, association or corporation owning, keeping or harboring a dog owned or kept in the Town.
[Amended 11-30-1987 STM by Art. 13; 4-28-2014 ATM by Art. 20]
A. 
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 six months old or over 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, 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, in order to own or keep such dog after the beginning of the succeeding 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 in the office of the Town Clerk on a form prescribed and supplied by the Town 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 fowls.
(1) 
The Town Clerk shall not grant such license for any dog unless the owner thereof provides the Town 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 provision as outlined in MGL c. 140, § 137, or a notarized letter from a veterinarian that a certificate was issued.
(2) 
The owner or keeper of a licensed dog shall cause it to wear around its neck or body a collar or harness of leather or other suitable material to which shall be securely attached a tag in a form prescribed by and issued by the Town Clerk when a license is issued. Such tag shall state the following: Town of Chelmsford, year of issue and tag number. If any such tag shall be lost, the owner or keeper of such dog shall forthwith secure a substitute tag from the Town Clerk at a cost of $2. This subsection shall not apply where it is otherwise provided by law, nor shall it apply to a person having a kennel license.
B. 
The provisions of MGL c. 140, § 138, shall be expressly incorporated under this article.
C. 
A license duly recorded shall be valid throughout the commonwealth, except that, in the case of the permanent moving of a dog into the Town, the owner or keeper thereof shall, within 30 days after such moving, present the original license and tag of such dog to the Town Clerk, and said Town 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 $2. The provisions of this article relative to the form and furnishing of licenses and tags shall apply to licenses and tags issued under this subsection.
A. 
Any person holding a kennel license shall maintain the kennel in a sanitary and humane manner.
[Amended 10-16-2006 ATM by Art. 14]
B. 
Any person who meets any requirement of the Town of Chelmsford bylaws and § 137A may obtain a kennel license from the Town Clerk on a form prescribed and supplied by the Town Clerk and for a fee as set out in § 11-5 of this article. 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 for the relief of suffering among animals.
C. 
The provisions of § 137B shall be expressly incorporated under this article.
D. 
The Chief of Police or Animal Control Officer may at any time inspect or cause to be inspected any kennel and, if in his or her judgment 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 Selectmen a petition setting forth the facts, and the Selectmen shall, upon this petition or upon a 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 Town, because of excessive barking or 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 Selectmen shall make an order either revoking or suspending such kennel license or otherwise regulating said kennel or dismissing said petition. Within 10 days after such order the holder of such license may bring a petition in the District Court as outlined in § 137C. Any person maintaining a kennel after the license therefor has been so revoked or while such license is so suspended shall be punished as set forth in § 11-18 of this chapter. The Selectmen may, in the case of any suspension, reinstate such license.
[Amended 10-16-2006 ATM by Art. 14]
E. 
The provisions of § 137D shall be expressly incorporated under this chapter.
F. 
All kennels shall be limited to a total of 100 dogs to be maintained on said premises. It shall be a violation of this article to have any dogs on said premises over and above said number.
[Added 11-30-1987 STM by Art. 13; amended 10-24-2016 ATM by Art. 14]
[Amended 12-8-1986 STM by Art. 1; 11-30-1987 STM by Art. 13; 6-4-1990 ATM by Art. 12; 10-1-1990 ATM by Art. 11; 10-28-1991 ATM by Art. 19; 4-29-2002 by Art. 12; 10-17-2005 ATM by Art. 14; 4-28-2014 ATM by Art. 20]
A. 
License fees for dogs and kennels shall be set by a majority vote of the voters present at a Town Meeting.
B. 
The license fee for a spayed or neutered dog shall be less than the license fee for an intact dog. Upon application for a license, the Town Clerk shall require a certificate from the veterinarian who spayed or neutered the dog as proof that the dog is spayed or neutered; provided, however, that if the Town Clerk is satisfied that the certificate of the veterinarian who spayed or neutered the dog cannot be obtained, the Town Clerk may instead accept a receipt of a bill from the veterinarian who performed such procedure or a statement signed under the penalties of perjury by a veterinarian registered and practicing in the commonwealth describing the dog and stating that the veterinarian has examined the dog, which appears to have been spayed or neutered and incapable of propagation.
C. 
To determine the amount of the license fee for a kennel, a dog under the age of six months shall not be counted in the number of dogs kept in a kennel.
D. 
No fee shall be charged for a license issued for a service animal as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act[1] or regulations promulgated thereunder.
[1]
Editor's Note: See 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.
E. 
No license fee or portion thereof shall be refunded because of the subsequent death, loss, spaying or removal from the commonwealth or other disposal of the dog, nor shall a license fee or portion thereof paid by mistake be paid or recovered after it has been paid over to the Town.
F. 
All fees shall be increased by $5 on the first day of the second month following the commencement of the required license period and by an additional $5 on the first day of each succeeding month up to June 30 each year.
G. 
In addition to all other sums due and owing for any license fee hereunder, a person who applies for a license hereunder shall be obligated to pay all prior amounts of license fees and citations determined to be due and owing by the Town Clerk pursuant to this article for past periods in which said person was obligated to obtain a license. It shall be a violation of this article to fail to pay any said sum due hereunder. This remedy shall be cumulative.
H. 
The following fees shall apply for licenses issued under Chapter 11:
Dog License
Fee
Intact male or female dog
$20
Spayed or neutered dog
$15
Kennel License
Fee
Domestic charitable corporation kennel
$0
Commercial boarding or training kennel
$350
Commercial breeder kennel
$350
Personal kennel
(1)
4 dogs or less
$85
(2)
5 dogs
$100
(3)
6 to 10 dogs
$150
(4)
11 to 25 dogs
$250
Veterinary kennel
$300
[Amended 10-15-1990 ATM by Art. 18; 10-16-2006 ATM by Art. 14]
A. 
The Town Manager shall annually appoint a Animal Control Officer and as many Assistant Animal Control Officers as the Town Manager determines necessary to enforce this article, and said individual(s) shall enforce this article and perform such other duties as the Town Manager may determine. The Town Manager shall determine hours and conditions of work for the Animal Control Officer(s). Compensation for persons appointed under this article shall be consistent with other bylaws dealing with salaries of appointed officials.
B. 
The provisions of §§ 151 and 151A regarding killing and/or transfer of any dogs shall apply and are expressly incorporated in this article. No Animal Control Officer shall be a licensed animal dealer registered with the United States Department of Agriculture, and no Animal Control Officer, either privately or in the course of carrying out his or her official assignments as an agent for this Town, or any other agent of the Town shall give, sell or turn over any animal which may come into his or her custody to any business or institution licensed or registered as a research facility or animal dealer with the United States Department of Agriculture. Whoever violates the provisions of this subsection shall be punished as provided in § 151.
[Amended 10-16-2006 ATM by Art. 14]
Every owner or keeper of a dog shall exercise proper care and control of his/her dog so as to prevent said dog from becoming a public nuisance.
1. 
Running at large. 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 of and aiding the deaf, nor to any dogs being trained or actually being used for hunting purposes, nor in any area officially designated by the Town for off-leash activities.
[Amended 4-29-2013 ATM by Art. 29]
(a) 
Any off-leash area designated by the Town will comply with all other Town of Chelmsford general bylaws.
(b) 
Owners of dogs shall be legally responsible for any and all injury or destruction of property caused by their dogs.
(c) 
Within areas that have been officially designated as off-leash areas, dogs may be allowed to run at large, subject to such rules and regulations as may be determined by the Town and as follows;
[1] 
All dogs are leashed prior to entering and upon leaving the off-leash dog area;
[2] 
The owner/keeper of the dog(s) at all times while his/hers dog(s) is (are) using the designated off-leash dog area is in attendance with the dog(s) in the designated area;
[3] 
The owner/keeper of the dog(s) has a leash in his/her possession for each dog he/she owns/keeps that is using the dog park.
[4] 
All dogs using the off-leash dog areas must be licensed and vaccinated per the Town of Chelmsford general bylaws;
[5] 
All dogs must be accompanied by an owner/keeper and be under his/her control at all times;
[6] 
Dogs determined to be dangerous or potentially dangerous pursuant to MGL c. 140, § 157, or Town of Chelmsford general bylaw Chapter 11, Article I, § 11-2, are not permitted to use these off-leash parks;
[7] 
Use of these off-leash dog areas will be restricted to daylight hours;
(d) 
The rules and regulations shall be posted at any off-leash area.
2. 
Barking. Dog owners or caretakers shall not allow excessive or untimely barking, howling, crying or scratching by their dogs which disturbs the peace and quiet of any neighborhood. Excessive barking is defined for the purposes of this section as barking for over 30 minutes.
3. 
Dog Waste Removal. A person owning or having the care, custody, or control of any dog shall not permit such dog to soil or defile or commit any nuisance upon any sidewalk, street, thoroughfare, beach, bike path, park/common or wetland, in or upon any public property or in or upon the property of persons other than the owner or person having the care, custody, or control of such dog, unless said person picks up any such waste and disposes of same in a sanitary manner.
4. 
Nothing contained in the foregoing subsection shall prevent the Board of Selectmen from passing any orders authorized by Massachusetts General Laws or by MGL c. 140, § 167 at such times as the Board shall deem it necessary to safeguard the public.
[Amended 10-21-1999 ATM by Art. 35; 10-16-2006 ATM by Art. 14]
The Animal Control Officer shall seek out, catch and confine any dog within the Town that has not been licensed with 60 days of the time the dog is required to be licensed under this article and shall seek out, catch and confine any dogs within the Town 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 article, and shall seek out, catch and confine any dog within the Town when said dog was cited for a violation of any provision of this article and the owner or keeper has failed within 21 days to avail himself or herself of § 11-16 or 11-17 of this article or, within 21 days of a determination by the court under the provision of Chapter 1, General Provisions, § 1-2 of the Code of the Town of Chelmsford that any sums are due, has failed to pay said sums.
[Amended 10-16-2006 ATM by Art. 14]
Any dog confined by the Animal Control 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 a manner determined by the Board of Selectmen, provided that at the end of 10 days the Animal Control Officer may make available for adoption any male or any spayed female dog not found to be diseased. 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 of as voted by the BOS pursuant to MGL c. 40, § 22F for care of the animal, each day or part of a day counted as one day. For any dog adopted under this section, a fee as voted by the BOS pursuant to MGL c. 40, § 22F shall be charged, and said dog shall be licensed before adoption. Any fees in this section are to be in addition to fees or fines as specified elsewhere in this article and/or under Massachusetts General Laws. No dog shall be turned over or sold in any manner inconsistent with § 151 or disposed of inconsistent with the provisions of § 151A.
[Amended 10-16-2006 ATM by Art. 14]
Any veterinarian registered under the provisions of MGL c. 112, § 55 or 56A who provides emergency treatment of a dog or cat that is injured on any public way in Chelmsford shall receive, in lieu of payment from the County Dog Fund as allowed in § 151B, payment from the Revolving Dog Fund. All other provisions of § 151B shall be incorporated herein under this article.
A. 
Whoever suffers loss in a manner described in § 161 shall inform the Animal Control Officer of such loss, who shall investigate the circumstances of said loss. In the event it is found that the damage was caused by a dog and the estimate of damages by the Animal Control Officer is less than $50, the Animal Control Officer shall submit a report to the Board of Selectmen. If the estimate is over $50, the Animal Control Officer shall have the damage appraised on oath by three persons, one person appointed by the Animal Control Officer, one appointed by the person alleged to be damaged and one appointed by the other two. Said appraisers shall act as outlined in § 161 and turn in said appraisal to the Board of Selectmen, which may authorize payment or make such independent investigation as it thinks proper and shall issue an order upon the Town Treasurer-Collector for any amount as it decides to be just and shall notify all interested parties of its decision. The appraisers shall receive payment from the Town in a manner as is authorized in § 161. All funds expended under this section shall come from the Revolving Dog Fund.
[Amended 10-21-1999 ATM by Art. 31; 10-16-2006 ATM by Art. 14]
B. 
The obligations and liability of the Town and the Town's agents, servants, employees and/or elected officials hereunder shall be limited to $100 per animal and $500 per residence per fiscal year. This shall not limit the Town's remedies and rights to seek compensation in excess of said amount pursuant to this article.
[Added 11-30-1987 STM by Art. 13]
C. 
The Selectmen may appoint a temporary investigator in any case that the Board believes in its reasonable discretion requires further investigation, and if said investigator believes that the evidence is sufficient to sustain an action against the owner or keeper of the dog, the investigator shall recommend to the Board of Selectmen that said action be brought, unless the owner or keeper before action is brought pays him or her such amount in settlement of the damages as he or she deems reasonable. After the recommendation of the investigator, the Selectmen may order that action shall be brought in his or her own name or in the name of the Town of Chelmsford, or both, as the Selectmen determine.
D. 
If the Selectmen determine, after notice to parties interested and a hearing, who is the owner or keeper of any dog which is found to have worried, maimed or killed any livestock or fowls, thereby causing damages for which their owner may become entitled to compensation from the Dog Fund under this article, they shall serve upon the owner or keeper of such dog a notice directing him or her within 24 hours to kill or confine the dog. A person who owns or keeps a dog and who has received such notice and does not within 24 hours kill such dog or thereafter keep it on his or her premises or under the immediate restraint and control of some person shall be punished as provided in § 11-18 of this article, and any police officer, constable or dog officer may kill such dog if it is found outside of the enclosure of its owner or keeper and not under his or her immediate care.
E. 
The Board of Selectmen, or its agents thereto authorized in writing, may, after written notice to the owner or keeper, enter upon the premises of the owner or keeper of any dog known to the Board to have worried or killed livestock or fowls and then and there kill such dog, unless such owner or keeper whose premises are thus entered for said purpose shall give a bond in the sum of $200, with sufficient sureties, approved by the Board of Selectmen, conditioned that the dog shall be restrained for 12 months next ensuing, and if the owner or keeper of the dog declares his or her intention to give such a bond, said Selectmen or their agents shall allow him or her seven days, exclusive of Sundays and holidays, in which to procure and prepare the same and to present it to them or to file it with the Town Clerk.
The owner or keeper of a dog which has done damage to livestock or fowls shall be liable in tort to the Town for all damages so done in which the Town has been requested to pay as provided by MGL c. 140 or by this article. Such action may be brought by the Board of Selectmen or by a temporary investigator as authorized in § 11-11 of this article.
[1]
Editor’s Note: Former § 11-13, Reward for killing dog, as amended, was repealed 4-28-2014 ATM by Art. 20.
All the provisions of § 167 shall be incorporated into this article, except that any dog held under the provisions of § 167 may not be released until all the requirements of this article regarding licensing and the fee for care of the animal are complied with. All other provisions of § 167 shall be incorporated herein.
[Amended 10-16-2006 ATM by Art. 14]
Any person authorized to enforce the provisions of this Chapter 11, Animals, Article I, Dogs, shall, in addition to any pickup of the dog pursuant to this article, issue a citation to the owner or keeper of any dog violating the provisions of this article. 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 and 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 Town Clerk.
A. 
The owner or keeper of the dog that receives a citation under this article may, within 21 days, confess to the offense charged personally or through a duly authorized agent or by mailing to the Town Clerk said citation along with payment in the amount as authorized under the penalty provisions of this article. Said payment shall be by postal note, money order or check. The payment to the Town Clerk shall operate as a final disposition of the case.
B. 
If such person when issued a citation desires to contest the violation through the informal disposition process, such person may, within 21 days of said issuance, request a hearing with the Town Clerk, or a hearing officer appointed by said Clerk, and may present either in person or by counsel any evidence he or she may have to refute the allegation contained in the citation. At such hearing, the Clerk or hearing officer shall make a determination as to facts of the allegation, and said determination shall be final regarding the informal disposition process.
If any person so notified by citation desires to contest the violation alleged in the citation notice without availing himself or herself of the provisions of the informal process or desires to contest the decision of the Clerk or hearing officer, he or she may avail himself or herself of the procedures established in Chapter 1, General Provisions, § 1-2 of the Code of the Town of Chelmsford. In either of the above cases, or if the owner or keeper of a dog fails to respond to the citation within 21 days, the Town Clerk shall forward a copy of the citation to the District Court, where it shall be handled under the provisions of Chapter 1, General Provisions, § 1-2 of the Code of the Town of Chelmsford.
[Amended 10-16-2006 ATM by Art. 14; 4-28-2014 ATM by Art. 20]
The following penalties shall apply for violations of Chapter 11. Any person who violates this section shall be subject to payment of the following fines:
Section
Violation
Penalty
11-3
Non-current dog license
$50
11-3A(1)
Non-current rabies vaccination
$25
11-3A(2)
Not wearing tag
$50
11-4D
Failure to maintain kennel in sanitary and humane manner
$50
11-7-2
Barking dog
$25
11-7-3
Failure to remove animal waste
First offense in a calendar year
$50
Second offense in a calendar year
$75
Third and subsequent offenses in a calendar year
$125
11-7-1
Running at large
(1)
Informal disposition process:
(a)
First offense in a calendar year
$50
(b)
Second offense in a calendar year
$75
(c)
Third and subsequent offenses in a calendar year
$125
(2)
Non-criminal disposition
(a)
First offense in a calendar year
$75
(b)
Second offense in a calendar year
$150
(c)
Third and subsequent offenses in a calendar year
$200
All other sections of Article 11
$100
Each day a violation exists shall constitute a separate offense.
The Board of Health shall, upon application, furnish free of charge to any resident who has been exposed to rabies or may have been so exposed anti-rabic vaccine and anti-rabic treatment, in accordance with rules and regulations which the Department of Public Health is authorized to make. Any resident shall have the right to select his or her own physician, who shall be paid by the Town at a rate established by the Board of Health, and the fact that a physician is a member of the Board of Health shall not disqualify him or her from being so selected and from being paid by the Town for his or her services. Reimbursement for the cost of furnishing vaccine and treatment, not exceeding $50 in the case of any one person, shall be made from the Dog Fund.
[1]
Editor's Note: Former § 11-19, Dog Fund, as amended, was repealed 10-16-2006 ATM by Art. 14. This enactment also renumbered former §§ 11-20 through 11-23 as §§ 11-19 through 11-22, respectively.
[Amended 4-28-2014 ATM by Art. 20]
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 the inhabitants of the Town at the time of making lists required under such section and return the same in duplicate to the Town Clerk on or before April 1. An owner or keeper of a dog who refuses to answer or answers falsely to persons directed or authorized to make a list of owners of dogs shall be punished by a fine of not less than $20.
The provisions of the following sections of Chapter 140 of Massachusetts General Laws shall be incorporated into and apply to this article: §§ 145B, 149, 155, 155A, 156, 157, 158, 159, 160, 161A, 168, 174A, 174B and 174D.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Original Sec. 23, Effective implementation date of this article, which immediately followed this section, was deleted 10-21-1999 ATM by Art. 35.
If any part, section or provision of this article is found to be invalid, the remainder of this article shall not be affected thereby.
{END OF CHAPTER}