Massachusetts Statutes

Statute by category Citationsort descending Summary
MA - Veterinary - Veterinary Practice Laws M.G.L.A. 112 § 54 - 60

These are the state's veterinary practice laws.  Among the provisions include licensing requirements, laws concerning the state veterinary board, veterinary records laws, and the laws governing disciplinary actions for impaired or incompetent practitioners.

MA - Cruelty, reporting - § 85. Department employees reporting animal cruelty, abuse or neglect; immunity from liability M.G.L.A. 119 § 85

This Massachusetts statute provides that a state employee acting within the scope of his or her employment, who has knowledge of or observes an animal whom he knows or reasonably suspects has been the victim of animal cruelty, abuse or neglect, may report it to the entities that investigate these reports or any local animal control. The statute describes how to make the report, timing to submit, and who can make the report if 2 or more employees witness the abuse.  The statute also makes clear that no person who makes a report shall be liable in any civil or criminal action if the report was made in good faith.

MA - Equine Activity Liability Statute - Chapter 128. Agriculture. M.G.L.A. 128 § 2D

This Massachusetts law provides that an equine activity sponsor, an equine professional, or any other person shall not be liable for an injury to or the death of a participant resulting from the inherent risks of equine activities.  The statute sets out several definitions related to equine activities, but specifically notes that the term "engage in an equine activity" shall not include being a spectator at an equine activity, except in cases where the spectator places himself in an unauthorized area or in immediate proximity to the equine activity.  Liability is not limited by this statute where the equine professional knowingly provided faulty tack or equipment, failed to make reasonable and prudent efforts to determine the ability of the participant to engage safely in the equine activity, owns or otherwise is in lawful possession of the land or facilities upon which the participant sustained injuries because of a known, dangerous latent condition, or if he or she commits an act or omission that constitutes willful or wanton disregard for the safety of the participant or intentionally injures the participant. 

MA - Pet Sales Age Restriction - Chapter 129. Livestock Disease Control M.G.L.A. 129 § 39G; § 43 This statute provides that any dog or cat brought or shipped into the commonwealth shall be accompanied by an official health certificate issued by an accredited veterinarian, a copy of which shall be sent to the commissioner of agricultural resources. Further, a commercial establishment, pet shop, firm or corporation shall not import into the commonwealth, for sale or resale in the commonwealth, a cat or dog less than 8 weeks of age.
MA - Equine transport - License plates for vehicles transporting equine animals M.G.L.A. 129 § 46 - 48

This Massachusetts law provides that vehicles transporting equines must have a special license plate. Also, the use of multiple deck vehicles or the so-called "possum belly" vehicle used in the transportation of equine animals is prohibited.

MA - Exotic pet, breeding - Chapter 131. Inland Fisheries and Game and Other Natural Resources. M.G.L.A. 131 § 23

Massachusetts bans private possession of exotic pets, and requires licenses for those who deal and propagate wild species for other reasons. The Massachusetts director of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife also issues a list of exempted species for which no permit is needed. (See also

MA - Hunting - Chapter 131. Inland Fisheries and Game and Other Natural Resources. M.G.L.A. 131 § 5C

This law reflects Massachusetts' hunter harassment provision. Under the law, no person shall obstruct, interfere with or otherwise prevent the lawful taking of fish or wildlife by another at the locale where such activity is taking place. Acts prohibited include, but are not limited to, driving or disturbing wildlife, harassing another engaged in lawful taking of fish or wildlife, interjecting oneself into the line of fire, or erecting barriers to prevent access. A person may seek an injunction to prevent violation of this section and a person who sustains damages from any act in violation of the law may bring a civil action for punitive damages.

MA - Hunting, Internet - § 65A. Online Shooting or Spearing M.G.L.A. 131 § 65A

This statute prohibits hunting via the Internet and the operation of online hunting businesses within the state of Massachusetts. Violation is punished by imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 2 1/2 years or by a fine of not more than $2,500, or by both a fine and imprisonment.

MA - Possession - Chapter 131. Inland Fisheries and Game and Other Natural Resources. M.G.L.A. 131 § 75A

Massachusetts specifically protects the eagle as a bird of prey from hunting or possession, unless provided by permit. The law further prohibits the possession, harassment or harming of the eggs and nests of birds of prey. Notably, sale and transportation are not specifically listed under the statute. .

MA - Exotic Pets - Chapter 131. Inland Fisheries and Game and Other Natural Resources. M.G.L.A. 131 § 77A Massachusetts bans hybrid animals, those offspring of mating between a domestic animal and its wild counterpart, usually wolves and dogs. No individual may possess or own a hybrid as a pet.
MA - Fur - Chapter 131. Inland Fisheries and Game and Other Natural Resources. M.G.L.A. 131 § 80A

Massachusetts law provides that a person may not use or possess any trap for capturing furbearing mammals except for common mouse and rat traps, nets, and box or cage traps. Traps designed to capture and hold a furbearing mammal by gripping the mammal's body, or body part are prohibited, including steel jaw leghold traps, padded leghold traps, and snares. This prohibition does not apply to federal, state, or municipal departments for the protection from threats to human health and safety (e.g., beaver or muskrat caused flooding or damage).

MA - Endangered Species - Chapter 131A. Massachusetts Endangered Species Act M.G.L.A. 131A § 1 - 7

This Massachusetts statute comprises the state's endangered species act.  "Endangered species", any species of plant or animal in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range including those species listed under the federal ESA.  The director shall conduct investigations and consult with the natural heritage and endangered species advisory committee in order to determine whether any species of plant or animal constitutes an endangered or threatened species or species of special concern.  Habitat alteration permits are required under this act when any person undertakes a project that may alter a significant portion of habitat.

MA - Lost Property - Chapter 134. Lost Goods and Stray Beasts M.G.L.A. 134 § 1 - 7

This section comprises Massachusetts' Lost Goods and Stray Beasts Act.

MA - Ordinances - By-laws and ordinances relative to regulation of dogs M.G.L.A. 140 § 147A (§ 147A. Repealed, 2012, 193, Sec. 19) This Massachusetts statute provides that any city or town that accepts the provisions of this statutory section is empowered to enact by-laws and ordinances relative to the regulation of dogs.  These areas may relate to, but not be limited to dog licensing, establishing dog fees, disposition of fees, appointment of dog officers, kennel licensing and regulations, procedures for the investigation of and reimbursement for damage caused by dogs, restraining of dogs and establishing penalties for a breach. This section was repealed in 2012.
MA - Dog Ordinances - CHAPTER 140. LICENSES. M.G.L.A. 140 § 173

This Massachusetts statute provides that a town may make additional ordinances or by-laws relative to the licensing and restraining of dogs.

MA - Dog Ordinances - CHAPTER 140. LICENSES. M.G.L.A. 140 § 173A

This Massachusetts statute provides the state law relative to violation of municipal by-laws or ordinances related to dog control.  Included are penalty provisions and appearance requirements.

MA - Leash - § 174B. Restraint of dogs in public highway rest areas; penalty M.G.L.A. 140 § 174B

This Massachusetts law states that whoever is the owner or keeper of a dog shall restrain said dog by a chain or leash when in an officially designated public highway rest area. Whoever violates the provisions of this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than $100.

MA - Dog - Consolidated Dog Laws M.G.L.A. 2 § 14; M.G.L.A. 112 § 12Z; M.G.L.A. 128A § 14E; M.G.L.A. 266 § 47; M.G.L.A. 140 § 136A - § 174F; M.G.L.A. 129 § 39G; M.G.L.A. 131 § 20, 21, 21A, 82

These Massachusetts statutes comprise the state's dog laws.  Among the provisions include licensing laws, dangerous dog laws, and rabies vaccination provisions.

MA - Cat of commonwealth - Chapter 2. Arms, Great Seal and Other Emblems of the Commonwealth. M.G.L.A. 2 § 30

The Tabby cat shall be the official cat of the Massachusetts commonwealth.

MA - Pet Trust - Chapter 203. Trusts. M.G.L.A. 203E § 408

In 2011, Massachusetts enacted this law, which allows the creation of a trust for the continuing care of an animal alive during the settlor's lifetime. The trust terminates upon the death of the last animal named in the trust. A court may reduce the amount of property held by the trust if it determines that the amount substantially exceeds the amount required for the intended use and the court finds that there will be no substantial adverse impact in the care, maintenance, health or appearance of the covered animal. The statute was renumbered in 2012.

MA - Domestic Violence - § 11. Possession, care and control of domesticated animal owned by persons involved in certain protecti M.G.L.A. 209A § 11

This Massachusetts law, effective October of 2012, allows the court to order the possession, care and control of any domesticated animal owned, possessed, leased, kept or held by either party or a minor child residing in the household to the plaintiff or petitioner in a no contact or restraining order. The court may order the defendant to refrain from abusing, threatening, taking, interfering with, transferring, encumbering, concealing, harming or otherwise disposing of such animal.

MA - Lien - § 24. Domestic animals; care and custody M.G.L.A. 255 § 24 Persons having proper charges due them for pasturing, boarding or keeping horses or other domestic animals which are brought to their premises or placed in their care by or with the consent of the owners thereof shall have a lien on such animals for such charges.
MA - Cruelty - Consolidated Cruelty Statutes M.G.L.A. 272 § 77- 95; M.G.L.A. 22C § 57; M.G.L.A. 272 § 34

These Massachusetts laws contain the state's anti-cruelty provisions.  § 77 is the operative anti-cruelty statute and provides that whoever overdrives, overloads, drives when overloaded, overworks, tortures, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance, cruelly beats, mutilates or kills an animal, and whoever uses in a cruel or inhuman manner in a race, game, or contest, or in training, as lure or bait a live animal (except as bait in fishing), or knowingly and willfully authorizes or permits it to be subjected to unnecessary torture, suffering or cruelty of any kind shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 7 years or imprisonment for not more than 2 1/2 years or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by both such fine and imprisonment.  Other prohibitions include the dyeing of baby chicks, the docking of horse tails, and both felony and misdemeanor penalties for animal fighting, depending on conduct. In 2010, the state made non-medically necessary devocalization of dogs or cats illegal.

MA - Assistance Animal - Assistance Animal/Guide Dog Laws M.G.L.A. 90 § 14A; M.G.L.A. 129 § 1, 39C, 39D, 39F, 43; M.G.L.A. 272 § 98A; M.G.L.A. 272 § 85B; M.G.L.A. 140 § 139

The following statutes comprise the state's relevant assistance animal and guide dog laws.

MA - Vehicle - § 22H. Safe transportation of animals M.G.L.A. 90 § 22H In Massachusetts, transporting an animal in the back of a motor vehicle on a public way unless such space is enclosed or has side and tail racks to a height of at least 46 inches extending vertically from the floor, the animal is cross tethered to the vehicle, the animal is protected by a secured container or cage or the animal is otherwise protected in a manner which will prevent the animal from being thrown or from falling or jumping from the vehicle results in a fine of not less than $50.
MA - Fur, labeling - Chapter 94. Inspection and Sale of Food, Drugs and Various Articles. M.G.L.A. 94 § 277A

This law represents Massachusetts' fur labelling law. Under the law, all natural, dyed or imitation furs, and all articles made wholly or partly therefrom, sold at retail within the commonwealth, shall be plainly marked or labelled with an accurate statement of the material which they contain, together with the name and address of the seller. Whoever violates any provision of this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than two hundred dollars.

Massachusetts 1854-1859: Chapter 96: An act to prevent cruelty to animals Mass. Gen, Laws ch. 96, §§ 1-2 (1859)

Section 1 from Chapter 96 of Massachusetts General Laws of 1859 covers cruelty to animals.  Specifically, the law covers what qualifies as cruelty to animals and the punishment for it.

Massachusetts General Law Statutes 1860-1872: Chapter 344: Sections 1-3 Mass. Gen. L. ch. 344 (1869)

The Massachusetts law from 1869 stated in Chapter 344 concerns the treatment of animals.  The first section is a generic animal cruelty act.  The second section details the punishment for owners of animals that allow their animals to be treated cruelly by a third party.  The third section concerns the treatment of animals during transportation.

Massachusetts General Law Statutes 1921: Sections 77-96 Mass. Gen. L., 77-96 (1921)

The 1921 of Massachusetts General Laws sections 77-96 cover the following topics: animal cruelty, treatment of horses, bird fighting, shooting of pigeons, procedural issues concerning an arrest for cruelty to animals, and transportation of animals.  

MA - Initiatives - Question 3, Minimum Size Requirements for Farm Animal Containment (2016) Question 3 Massachusetts Question 3 is a law proposed by initiative petition and appears on the 2016 ballot. This proposed law would prohibit any farm owner or operator from knowingly confining any breeding pig, calf raised for veal, or egg-laying hen in a way that prevents the animal from lying down, standing up, fully extending its limbs, or turning around freely. The Secretary of the Commonwealth's official summary states: "This proposed law would prohibit any farm owner or operator from knowingly confining any breeding pig, calf raised for veal, or egg-laying hen in a way that prevents the animal from lying down, standing up, fully extending its limbs, or turning around freely. The proposed law would also prohibit any business owner or operator in Massachusetts from selling whole eggs intended for human consumption or any uncooked cut of veal or pork if the business owner or operator knows or should know that the hen, breeding pig, or veal calf that produced these products was confined in a manner prohibited by the proposed law. The proposed law would exempt sales of food products that combine veal or pork with other products, including soups, sandwiches, pizzas, hotdogs, or similar processed or prepared food items." A "yes" vote would prohibit any confinement of pigs, calves, and hens that prevents them from lying down, standing up, fully extending their limbs, or turning around freely. A "no" vote would make no change in current laws relative to the keeping of farm animals.
MA - Initiatives - Question 3, 2000 (dog racing) Question 3 (2000) This Massachusetts ballot question asked voters in 2000 whether they wanted to prohibit in Massachusetts any dog racing where any form of betting or wagering on the speed or ability of dogs occurs. Any person violating the proposed law could be required to pay a civil penalty of not less than $20,000 to the State Racing Commission. The question failed with 49% voting "yes" and 51% voting "no" on the question.
MA - Initiatives - 2008 Question 3 (dog racing) Question 3 (2008) This proposed law would prohibit any dog racing or racing meeting in Massachusetts where any form of betting or wagering on the speed or ability of dogs occurs. The State Racing Commission would be prohibited from accepting or approving any application or request for racing dates for dog racing. Any person violating the proposed law could be required to pay a civil penalty of not less than $20,000 to the Commission. All existing parts of the chapter of the state's General Laws concerning dog and horse racing meetings would be interpreted as if they did not refer to dogs. These changes would take effect January 1, 2010. The measure was approved by a margin of 65% to 35 %.