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If a dog is a threat or a nuisance to the community, a person my file a written complaint with the town’s selectmen or animal control officer.  See M.G.L. c. 140, sec. 157.

A town official will review the complaint and “may order the restraint or disposal of the dog.”

If the dog’s owner objects to the order, he or she may file a petition in District Court seeking to have the town’s decision reversed.

The petition must be filed within ten days of the town’s order and the town must be notified of the appeal.

The owner’s appeal will be heard by a magistrate and the town’s decision may be reversed if the magistrate concludes that “it was made without proper cause or in bad faith.”

Either party (the town or the dog owner) may appeal the magistrate’s decision and have the matter reviewed by a District Court judge.

According to the statute the judge’s decision “shall be final and conclusive upon the parties” and failure to comply with the court’s ruling could result in imprisonment.

If you have any questions about dog disturbances or any other legal matter, please feel free to contact me at