Dogs can be wonderful companions, as many Massachusetts residents know. However, part of being a pet owner involves taking responsibility for your pet. All too often, irresponsible dog owners expose their community members to serious danger by failing to take the precautions to prevent dog bite injuries.
The city of Worcester tried to take steps to reduce the dangers typically associated with pit bull ownership. Though some pit bulls are even-tempered, the breed has a history of becoming violent without warning or provocation. As such, the city passed an ordinance in 2011 that required pit bull owners to spay or neuter the animals and keep a muzzle on them when in public.
However, the city will no longer be able to enforce this code when a new state law comes into effect in a couple months. The legislation states that municipalities cannot introduce laws that affect specific types of dog breeds, which supersedes Worcester’s regulations on pit bull ownership.
Critics of the Worcester regulations say that breed-specific laws are quite difficult to enforce and believe that local law enforcement agencies should have more discretion when regulating dangerous dogs.
The impetus behind Worcester’s efforts is clear: Pit bulls are noted for being dangerous, so the city wanted to protect the welfare of residents. Now, however, there may be some inconsistency among pit bull owners as to what constitutes taking the necessary precautions to prevent attacks.
Though people should always exercise caution around unfamiliar animals — especially young children– owners are still ultimately responsible for knowing their pet’s habits and potential tendencies to act violently. In the case that an owner does not properly restrain their animal, then those who become injured may have the ability to hold that person responsible in civil court. Despite changes in breed-specific laws, the Massachusetts’ personal injury laws still protect victims.
- GoLocalWorcester, “Controversial Pit Bull Ordinance Unenforceable Under New MA Law,” Ashley Klann, Aug. 9, 2012
- Our firm has experience handling a variety of personal injury cases, including animal attacks. For more information, please visit our Leominster dog bite page.