Arlington’s Animal Control Bylaws

 

Summary:

Arlington’s Animal Control Bylaws now allow morning off leash recreation (generally, 6 to 9 am, with some exceptions) in several Arlington parks.  Specific details on the program may be found at the website of the Recreation Department at this link, where a brochure listing specific parks, off-leash hours and other details may be downloaded.

The bylaw change enabling morning off-leash recreation was sponsored at Town Meeting by A-DOG, with several Town Meeting members who are also A-DOG members advocating successfully for Town Meeting approval.  The new wording appears in red in the bylaws (below).

Arlington’s Animal Control bylaws also allow for fenced “dog recreation areas”, to be established by the Park and Recreation Commission.  This bylaw change (shown in blue) was voted in by Town Meeting (2003/2004) through the efforts of an earlier group of Arlington dog owners, the Friends of Canine Companions of Arlington (FOCCA).  Some of the original FOCCA members joined with other residents to found A-DOG in 2008.

When not in a designated off-leash recreational area at designated times, Arlington bylaws require that dogs be restrained on a leash no greater than 6 ft in length.

Fines for violating the “Leash Laws” in Arlington are among the highest, if not the highest, in Massachusetts, as shown below in green.  This was because of an amendment voted in by Town Meeting, 2011.  An A-DOG member, Wes Beal has sponsored a petition to return these fines to levels more consistent with those in other communities (generally, no greater than $50).

 

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Bylaws:

Title VIII – Public Health and Safety 

ARTICLE 2: CANINE CONTROL

Section 1. Dogs

No person shall own or keep any dog which by biting, barking, howling, or in any other manner disturbs the peace and quiet of any neighborhood, or endangers the safety of any person.

Section 2. Leashing of Dogs

Leash Required

No person owning or keeping a dog in the Town of Arlington shall permit such dog to be at large in the Town of Arlington elsewhere than on the premises of the owner or keeper, except if it be on the premises of another person with the knowledge and permission of such other person. Such owner or keeper of a dog in the Town of Arlington, which is not on the premises of the owner or upon the premises of another person with the knowledge and permission of such person shall restrain such dog by a chain or leash not exceeding six feet in length. In any prosecution hereunder, the presence of such dog at large upon premises other than the premises of the owner or keeper of such dog shall be prima facie evidence that such knowledge and permission was not had.

ART. 10, ATM 4/28/03

This provision shall not apply, however, in any area designated by the Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners as a “Dog Park,” “Dog Run” or “Dog Exercise Area.” In areas so designated, dogs are not required to be restrained by a leash provided the owner or keeper of such dog is present and attentive to the dog.

B. Enforcement

Any dog found to be at large in violation of this By-Law shall be caught and confined by the dog officer who shall notify forthwith the licensed owner or keeper of said dog giving the owner or keeper a period of ten days within which to recover the dog. Return of the dog to the licensed owner or keeper shall be dependent on admission of ownership or the keeping of the dog and the assumption of responsibility by the licensed  owner or keeper. The dog officer shall enter and prosecute a complaint against the owner or keeper of any dog taken into his custody under this section, as provided for in this By-Law. A dog officer having custody of a dog confined under this By-Law shall be allowed the sum of two dollars per day for each day of confinement for the care of such dog, payable by the owner or keeper thereof.

 

C.     Fines

(ART. 40, ATM – 05/08/91 (ART. 17, ATM – 04/26/06)(ART. 19, ATM – 04/27/11)

Violations of Sections 2 of this Article shall be punishable as follows:

 

First offense                                                   By a fine of      $75.00

Second offense                                          By a fine of    $100.00

Third offense                                                   By a fine of    $150.00

Fourth and each subsequent offense      By a fine of    $200.00

 

The Park and Recreation Commission shall provide for a hearing process to consider community input regarding the creation, placement and use of dog parks, dog runs or dog exercise areas.  The Commission shall adopt rules and regulations concerning these hearings subject to the approval of the Town Manager.

 

D.      Notwithstanding the foregoing, from park opening time until 9 am, a maximum of two dogs per handler may be off-leash, under effective owner control, in all lands under control of the Parks and Recreation Commission except (ART 36, ATM 2010):

1.      those lands directly contiguous to school properties;

2.      within 15 feet of playground equipment;

3.      by specific exclusion of the Parks and Recreation Commission.

 

Title IV – Public Areas

ARTICLE 1: USE OF AREAS UNDER CONTROL OF PARK DEPARTMENT

 

Section 8. Animal Control

Art. 9, ATM, 4/28/03 and ART 36, ATM 2010

No person shall cause or permit any animal owned by him or in his custody or under his control, to roam or be at large, in, on or through any park or playground, except in any area designated by the Board of Park and Recreation Commissioners as a “Dog Park”, “Dog Run” or “Dog Exercise Area”, or, except a dog when restrained by a leash not exceeding six (6) feet in length. No animals are allowed on any beach under the care and control of the Park Department. Notwithstanding the foregoing, from park opening time until 9 am, a maximum of two dogs per handler may be off-leash, under effective owner control, in all lands under control of the Parks and Recreation Commission except:

A.      those lands directly contiguous to school properties;

B.      within 15 feet of playground equipment;

C.      by specific exclusion of the Parks and Recreation Commission.

Bylaws reprinted from the Town of Arlington website, here.

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