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In the wake of Boston's recent enactment of a breed-specific dangerous dog ordinance, Massachusetts fanciers should be on the lookout for similar legislation in their municipalities. The Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners has notified AKC that two cities, Fitchburg and Leominster, are considering proposals similar to Boston's new ordinance, which severely restricts “pit bull” ownership. Although nothing has been formally drafted, officials in these areas are looking toward Boston's law as a model for their communities. Unfortunately, passage of the Beantown measure has set a negative precedent that could snowball across the state if dog owners do not remain active and aware.

Fanciers will recall that Boston's ordinance requires pit bull owners to have their dogs spayed or neutered and registered with the city. Pit bulls are defined as American Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, or any mix of those breeds. The ordinance also limits residents to two pit bulls and requires owners to leash and muzzle their dogs when in public. Additionally, owners must display a sign on their property stating that a pit bull is located on the premises. Exemptions are provided for animals participating in dog shows, but they may not remain in the city for longer than two weeks.

The American Kennel Club strongly supports reasonable, enforceable dangerous dog laws designed to keep communities safe for both people and dogs. We believe that dog owners should be responsible for their dogs and that laws should impose appropriate penalties on irresponsible owners. In order to be effective, however, such legislation should judge a dog based on its deed rather than its breed.

What You Can Do:

  • AKC encourages dog owners to keep alert in their communities and to notify the Canine Legislation department when issues arise. We can provide you with helpful information packets as well as put you in touch with others working on the issue.
  • Fitchburg and Leominster dog owners are strongly urged to contact their city officials to express their opposition to breed-specific legislation.


Fitchburg City Council
City Hall
719 Main Street
Fitchburg, MA 01420
Phone: 978-345-9592
Fax: 978-345-9595

To find our who your Councilor is, click here:

Leominster City Council
City Hall
25 West Street
Leominster, MA 01453
Phone: 978-534-7536
Fax: 978-534-7546

To find our who your Councilor is, click here:

Points to Address:

  • Breed-specific laws are not the best way to protect communities. An owner intent on using his or her dogs for malicious purposes will simply be able to switch to another type of dog and continue to jeopardize public safety. The list of regulated breeds or types could grow every year without ever addressing responsible dog ownership. Deeds, not breeds, should be addressed.
  • Breed-specific laws are hard to enforce. Breed identification requires expert knowledge of the individual breeds, placing great burden on local officials.
  • Breed-specific laws are unfair to responsible owners.
  • Breed-specific laws increase costs for community. Shelter costs for the community could rise as citizens abandon targeted breeds, and adoptable dogs of the targeted breeds would be euthanized at the shelter.
  • Strongly enforced animal control laws (such as leash laws), generic guidelines on dealing with dangerous dogs and increased public education efforts to promote responsible dog ownership are all better ways to protect communities from dangerous animals.
  • Breed-specific legislation is opposed by the AKC, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the National Animal Interest Alliance, National Animal Control Association, the ASPCA, and a host of national animal welfare organizations that have studied the issue and recognize that targeting breeds simply does not work.


For more information, contact:

Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs
and Responsible Dog Owners
AKC's Canine Legislation department

In the wake of Boston’s recent enactment of a breed-specific dangerous dog