Worcester, MA takes first steps to REPEAL pit bull ordinance

The City Council in Worcester, MA gave preliminary approval last night to an amendment that repeals the city’s pit bull ordinance enacted in 2011.   By a unanimous vote, the council agreed to advertise the amendment, which brings the city’s rules governing the licensing and regulation of dogs into conformity with comprehensive statewide animal control regulations that took effect October 31, 2012.

The pit bull ordinance has to be repealed because the new state law bans the regulation of dogs based on breed, and contains specific provisions concerning dangerous and nuisance dogs.  It also repeals the local option statute adopted by the council in 1986 that gave the city power to enact a local ordinance regulating dogs.

In addition, the new state law revised the process in which the police investigate dog complaints. It institutes a complaint and hearing procedure whereby dog complaints will result in a hearing before a hearing officer, who may issue orders requiring the dogs be confined to the owner’s premises, restrained by leash or muzzle when off premises, insured, and reproductively altered.

The amendment to the city’s animal control ordinance will be back before the council for final action on December 11, 2012, and upon passing, it will be retroactive to November 1, 2012.

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