Local officials regulate dogs and kennels.

Because Belmont has been considering a new animal control law, I’ve been receiving some state law questions. State law vests authority for regulation of animals with local officials.

General Laws, Chapter 140, sections 136A through 172 defines local authority over both kennels and individual dogs. Here are a few relevant sections.

Section 136A defines terms, defining “Kennel”, as

” pack or collection of dogs on a single premise, including a commercial boarding or training kennel, commercial breeder kennel, domestic charitable corporation kennel, personal kennel or veterinary kennel.

The law separately defines each of those sub-types of kennel. We added all those sub-type definitions in 2012. The new (in 2012) definition of a commercial boarding kennel did make clear that day boarding facilities are kennels subject to regulation, defining a Commercial boarding or training kennel”, as

an establishment used for boarding, holding, day care, overnight stays or training of animals that are not the property of the owner of the establishment, at which such services are rendered in exchange for consideration and in the absence of the owner of any such animal; provided, however, that “commercial boarding or training kennel” shall not include an animal shelter or animal control facility, a pet shop licensed under section 39A of chapter 129, a grooming facility operated solely for the purpose of grooming and not for overnight boarding or an individual who temporarily, and not in the normal course of business, boards or cares for animals owned by others.

Municipal authority to regulate a day boarding facility may not have been completely clear previously.

Section 137A requires the licensing of kennels, providing:

(a) A person maintaining a kennel shall obtain a kennel license.

Section 137C. gives cities and towns authority to inspect and supervise kennels.

The mayor of a city, the selectmen of a town, the police commissioner in the city of Boston, a chief of police or an animal control officer may at any time inspect a kennel or cause the inspection of a kennel. If, in the judgment of such person or body, the kennel is not being maintained in a sanitary and humane manner or if records are not properly kept as required by law, such person or body shall, by order, revoke or suspend the license for the kennel.

Section 173 gives municipalities authority to write their own bylaws about kennels and dogs, stating that

A city or town may make additional ordinances or by-laws relative to the licensing and control of animals not inconsistent with sections 136A to 174E, inclusive.

That is the authority that the town is working under in passing local by-laws. The state law does not limit the number of dogs at a kennel or day boarding facility. Those decisions are up to municipalities.

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Will Brownsberger
State Senator
2d Suffolk and Middlesex District