Does Massachusetts Law Allow Dogs to Poop in Neighbors’ Yards?
Even though we've had our dog, Bo, for more than two years, I still consider myself a dog rookie. I feel like our family still has so many hacks to learn about being dog owners.
When it comes to dogs, one hot topic always seems to be where they can relieve themselves. We are lucky enough to have an invisible fence for our dog, and he has a designated spot in the woods where he takes care of business, which is a super-nice feature.
However, people walk their dogs in my neighborhood all the time, and there are popular, wooded, undeveloped spots along the street that are natural for this activity. Someone called Fun 107 morning show Michael and Maddie asking whether or not it is technically OK to have the dogs leave their business in these spots.
After all, they are not really a part of someone's yard, they are vacant areas.
The alternative? I've seen people allow their dogs to poop on a neighbor's lawn, which I wouldn't particularly appreciate.
Is It Legal?
Here in Massachusetts, it's a question that is generally left up to the local cities and towns. On the SouthCoast, there were very different answers about this.
Fall River and New Bedford, for example, both expect the dog waste left on private property to be attended to immediately by the owner. So, technically, it's OK for your dog to go in a neighbor's yard, as long as you promptly clean up the mess.
Fall River goes as far as to say that failure to do so will result in a fine of $25. Fall River also gets into specifics about where and how the waste should be disposed.
Disposal shall be accomplished by transporting such fecal matter to a place suitable and regularly reserved for the disposal of human fecal matter, specifically reserved for disposal of dog fecal matter or otherwise designated as appropriate by the Director of Public Health.
In Dartmouth, however, the town ordinance goes out of its way to say no to animals on private property.
No person shall permit or allow a domestic animal to be upon any private property other than a Town way or sidewalk, regardless of whether the domestic animal is under restraint, and whether for pasturage or otherwise, unless the owner of that property provides permission to do so and the domestic animal is not otherwise prohibited by law from being upon that property.
Considering the stark difference between cities and towns, it is best to check your town's rules. Here is a list of all of the towns and a link to their bylaws.