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« Why do people choose to adopt the pets they choose? | Main | Top 5 +1 for July 2012 »

August 03, 2012



Ledy or Marcy posted that Mass. IS a home rule state.. but not clear what that means in this case...


Massachusetts is nominally a home-rule state, but in practice that home rule is pretty weak. Municipal laws may not conflict with state law and the new law has no exceptions and no grandfather clause.

Lis Carey

I've read through the entire text--only once, which isn't really sufficient, of course. But while it's not perfect, I think there's a lot of good stuff and nothing really awful that I've noticed yet.

"Personal kennels," which aren't selling puppies through commercial outlets are subject to inspection but only have to meet normal animal welfare requirements, not the puppy mill standards no responsible breeder would live with. Personal kennels are also specifically allowed to participate in animal rescue. Pounds and shelters CANNOT sell or transfer animals to USDA dealers or to research institutions, and an ACO cannot be a USDA dealer.

Dogs are specifically recognized as having the right to do what dogs are supposed to do: protect themselves, their people, their owner's property, and other animals from attack, and they cannot be declared dangerous if they respond in normal ways to attacks or invasions. They can't be declared dangerous for merely barking and/or growling.

The law of course uses a lot more words to state all this in language that's reasonably clear to lawyers, and I'm not touching all the details, but those are the high points that stood out to me.


Thanks Lis -- yeah, nothing is ever "perfect" (not that any two people could agree on that anyway), but I've not seen any concerns over this and only a lot of reasons to like it.

Laura/Emily, I think most states allow home rule to some degree, but some are more loose about it than others. For instance, Colorado allows home rule and it seems every city has the power and they can use it pretty freely. Some are more strict. Just not sure how lax MASS is, or how strictly the law is written to allow for home rule cities to do their own thing....

Lis Carey

Home rule in Massachusetts is really pretty limited. The municipalities can't legislate on matters of taxation, or on anything the state has chosen to legislate on, unless they get a home rule petition approved by the state legislature. Growing up in a politically involved family, a good bit of my teen years were enlivened by Boston and other communities approving and submitting to the legislature "home rule petitions," which, if approved, gave them the authority to do something different than what general state law said--usually in very specific instances. Even if the petition got approved, it didn't protect the municipality against the legislature changing its mind later and overturning whatever the municipality had done with its "home rule." It will need to be challenged in court, probably, but if someone is willing to do that, Boston's, and Worcester's, pit bull restrictions are doomed, because the legislature has just legislated on that point.

More than you want to know about MA home rule, helpfully entitled "Dispelling the Myth of Home Rule,"


sure seems to confirm what Lis and Laura have posted here... Boston BSL going DOWN! (though probably with a fight)


Thanks for the update - just caught this online. And yes, this is great news. Happy that Boston can spend a lot of taxpayer $$$ defending their right to ineffective governance.


Hello, I'm wondering if this law has anything to do with a landlord not allowing a specific breed to live in a condo or apartment? Does anyone know?


Reese, landlords and insurance companies can make their own restrictions. The law only applies to municipalities and municipal agencies.

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