How Many Dogs Can You Have in Massachusetts?

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How many dogs you can have in Massachusetts depends on where in the state you live. But there are some additional laws surrounding dog ownership that you should familiarize yourself with.
Is there such a thing as too many dogs? If you own more than one dog and still can’t get enough of them, the answer to that is probably no. But in Massachusetts, the answer to that from a legal standpoint depends largely on what city you live in and what local laws apply. 
If you’re a pet parent yourself, it’s a good idea to get familiar with these rules so you can keep your dog safe, as well as spare yourself from legal headaches and potential penalties. 
That’s why Jerry, the licensed insurance broker and home and renters insurance app, has dug up the answers to the following legal questions related to dog ownership in Massachusetts. 
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Does Massachusetts have laws limiting how many dogs you can own?

Exactly how many dogs are you allowed to have in Massachusetts? When it comes to dog ownership in Massachusetts, technically, the limit does not exist—at the state level, anyway. Dog limits per household can vary at the city or county level, depending on where you live.
For example, Swampscott residents can own up to three dogs. An exception to this rule is that if a dog has puppies, it can stay with its mother for up to six months. Owning more than three adult dogs would require you to apply for a kennel license with the town clerk.
Similarly, the town of Orange limits dog ownership to no more than four dogs older than six months without a proper license, and West Stockbridge allows no more than six dogs older than six months. 
Limit or no limit in Massachusetts, it’s a good idea to keep the amount of dogs you own at a number you can adequately care for, from providing enough daily food and shelter to covering unexpected veterinary costs if they have a medical emergency.

Are there any dog breeds outlawed in Massachusetts?

What dogs are banned in Massachusetts? Actually, Massachusetts hasn’t had breed-specific legislation (BSL) for dogs since 2012. However, state law does speak to the handling of individual dogs that have been deemed as dangerous after incidents like dog bites.
Here’s how Massachusetts state law defines a “dangerous dog” as either of the following:
  • A dog that has attacked a person or domestic animal, without provocation, which resulted in death or injury
  • A dog whose behavior would make a “reasonable person” believe it might injure or kill a person or domestic animal, without justification
Once a dog is deemed dangerous, the appropriate authority will evaluate the situation’s circumstances and order one or more of the following
  • The dog must be “humanely restrained”
  • The dog must be confined indoors or outdoors in a securely enclosed, locked pen
  • The dog must be muzzled and properly restrained when off the owner’s property; the restraining “tethering device” should be able to hold up to 300 pounds and shouldn’t be more than three feet long.
  • The dog owner must provide proof of insurance that would cover any damages or injuries caused by the dog—or proof that reasonable attempts to find insurance were made
  • The dog owner must provide the proper authority with information to identify the dog over the course of its life
  • The dog must be spayed or neutered, unless a medical condition prevents it
  • The dog must be humanely euthanized

What are the leash laws in Massachusetts?

Who let the dogs out? Hopefully, not you. Leash laws require dogs to be leashed or otherwise restrained in public places. 
At the state level in Massachusetts, it’s required to keep dogs leashed or otherwise restrained at public highway rest areas. Additional rules can vary from city to city. 
Boston is one such city with leash laws. The city law requires that:
  • Your dog must be leashed whenever you’re off your property
  • When your dog isn’t inside your home or a fenced-in yard, they must be under your control
  • Dogs shouldn’t roam at large, rummage through trash, or bother other members of the public
As a Boston dog owner, the law also requires that you pick up and properly dispose of your dog’s waste when in public.
You can review ordinances and bylaws in Massachusetts cities here.
Generally speaking, though, it’s probably safest to keep your dog leashed whenever you leave your property because Massachusetts state law does allow police or animal control officers to euthanize unrestrained dogs if they’re deemed a threat to public safety.

Penalties for breaking dog laws in Massachusetts

Penalties for leash laws are determined by the city that enforces them. As for leash law violations at public rest areas across the state, the penalty is up to $100.
Under Massachusetts law, if a dog injures another person or their property, the dog’s owner will be held liable for any damages, unless the injury or damage was a result of the other trespassing, provoking the dog, or committing another wrong.
If a dog owner violates an order that was issued after a dog was deemed vicious, the dog could be subject to “seizure and impoundment,” and the owner could be prohibited from licensing another dog for five years
As stated earlier, dog owners are typically liable for injuries and property damage caused by their dogs. Additionally, if a dog has already been deemed dangerous and injures another person, the owner will be liable for three times the amount of damages.
Cases of animal neglect and abuse are punishable by up to seven years in prison and/or up to $10,000 in fines.
To learn even more about Massachusetts dog laws—as well as the consequences of violating them—you can visit the Massachusetts state website

Where to find affordable insurance in Maryland

You can probably already name some reasons why having home or renters insurance is important for you. But have you ever thought about why good insurance matters for your pets?
Here are a few main reasons:
  • Your home is their home: Whatever the cause, if your house is damaged beyond repair, your pets will be out of a home, too. The right insurance policy gives you and your fur babies more stability after a disaster. 
  • Your coverage protects their stuff: Having adequate personal property protection in place can help you replace your dogs’ beds, food and water dishes, and even their favorite toys if they’re lost for a reason that your policy covers.
  • It provides personal liability coverage: You hope it never happens, but if your pet ends up injuring someone or damages their property, personal liability coverage can help cover legal costs and give you much-needed financial protection if worst comes to worst (just make sure said pet is properly listed on your policy).
With the Jerry app, finding home or renters insurance that works just as well for your four-legged friends as it does for you is quicker and easier than ever. It takes under a minute to enter your information and start comparing customized quotes from some of the nation’s top insurance providers.
Even better, Jerry’s friendly, experienced agents are here to help if you run into questions along the way, like what options you can consider if you have a “dangerous” dog breed that’s difficult to find a compatible home or renters insurance policy for. 
Plus, Jerry’s users save an average of $800+ per year—and that’s just on car insurance.
“Without a doubt, using Jerry was a seamless process!  The staff were attentive to my every question. My new Nationwide policy premium saves me $200 a month. Let them save you money too!” —Kenny P.
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