Home Animal_Control History Responsible_Owners Cat_Bylaw


history: how this all started

To read last year's 2012 animal related petitions, click below: 

2012 Article 44: Hiring Animal Control Officer

2012 Article 45: Cat Bylaw

2012 Article 46: Responsible Pet Ownership

Concord, MA  2012 Town Meeting: Animal Related Articles 44, 45, 46              

April 27, 2012: these Articles failed to pass, with Article 46 (Responsible Pet Ownership) ending in a "dead heat" / tie with 171 votes for and against, and thus, failing to pass.  


Watch related videos from Public TV affiliate WGBH, presenting a more accurate review with an analysis of the GLOBES cover story:


The BOSTON GLOBE gave us tremendous exposure by placing the story on the front page / "under the fold" / below Mitt Romney. But in the GLOBE's desire to capture an audience, the story mislead readers with what was described as "an interesting play on words". 

For a more accurate report see got it right too:

from 2012:

These articles have been designed for the public good. My attempts at personally resolving issues with the neighbors' cats took place for months before I took this to the next level. Initially, it was the bylaw pertaining to cats that I was most interested in…but upon further research I found antiquated language and outdated procedures, spurring me on to Animal Control and Responsible Pet Ownership. 

My concern and commitment to "those who have no voice" is genuine, be it an abused or ill human being, pet, domesticated or wild animal. And while I research extensively and question the diversity of opinions, I believe that

 only through open dialogue, sincere interest and genuine curiosity does there exist any possibility of understanding and compromise. 

Regarding Article 45 - the Town of Concord Cat Bylaw: I’d like to make it clear that this bylaw pertains to domestic, pet cats only, with the exception of the Animal Control Officer impounding a stray cat that may be feral, in which case spaying and neutering needs to be addressed. As written and amended in the Article: “to obtain release of one's cat, an owner or keeper must procure evidence of inoculation against rabies and pay the required impoundment fee, as well as in the case of feral cats, show evidence of spaying and neutering unless waived per order of veterinary authorization.”

The goal of this bylaw is to mirror existing pet dog bylaws. This bylaw was created with the safety of both humans and cats in mind, and encourages collar use with outdoor, free-roaming pet cats; the return rate for lost cats that are collared is much higher than for those without. According to a recent study done by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, there seems to be more of problem with the “perception” of cats not tolerating collars vs. reality: 538 cats were tracked for collar tolerance; owners were asked to predict the cat’s tolerance to collars; owners predicted that 25% of cats would not tolerate wearing a collar at all. In reality, only 9% of the cats did not tolerate collars well,  62% tolerated collars “Extremely well”, 19% tolerated collars “Moderately well”, and 10% tolerated collars “Fairly well”.

While I support keeping cats indoors or within the confines of their own yard, Article 45 does NOT penalize owners who allow cats to roam-free outdoors, but rather, creates a platform for addressing cat related disputes as a result of free-roaming. Consequently, if cat owners of a community allow their cats to roam outdoors, it should be with the understanding that an agreement has been reached with neighboring non-cat owners as well. The MSPCA recently addressed a letter to our Board of Selectmen supporting identification of cats, keeping cats indoors or outdoors within a protected, confined area (click to read MSPCA letter)

Regarding Article 44 - the hiring of an Animal Control Officer:  I support Article 44 for the following reasons: for the past few decades, Concord has had a contract with a Dog Officer to respond to all dog related matters. Calls and complaints related to other animals are managed and handled by the Concord Police / Fire Department staff, many of whom have not received training in animal control or wildlife handling procedures. Massachusetts rabies laws require all dogs and cats over 6 months of age to be vaccinated; Concord has no staff or procedures in place to enforce this requirement. The additional positive aspect to the timing of this Article is that Lexington is currently looking to partner with 3 other communities in resurrecting their animal shelter; the 3 towns considered in this cooperative include Bedford, Belmont and Concord. And there is the potential for sharing of Animal Control responsibilities.

Article 46 – supporting Responsible Pet Ownership (RPO): this Article aims to establish Responsible Pet Ownership principles and guidelines designed to promote a community where pets, their owners and neighbors live in safety and harmony. RPO can be summarized by four points:

1) Provide licensing and permanent identification - quickly reuniting lost pets with their families;

2) Spay and neuter your pets - reducing unwanted litters humanely;

3) Provide proper medical care, socialization, training, diet and exercise - promoting safe, healthy pets;

4) Not allowing your pets to become a threat or nuisance to the community; proper management prevents pets from becoming a threat or nuisance, thus reducing animal related issues and complaints.

Essential to the proposed Concord model is the creation of a Responsible Pet Ownership Committee made up of a team of volunteers representing pet owners and non-pet owners alike, along with input from the Town government, Police department, Animal Control and Veterinary specialists. These individuals will be called upon to develop the Town’s RPO principles and will act as a sounding board for Concord citizens, pet owners and non-pet owners alike, or anyone involved with local animal issues.

And as someone expressed in bewilderment: what does it really mean if you don’t care for or support responsible pet ownership? Where does that place you?

Whether or not these Articles pass, the door has been opened, and hopefully, more interested and curious minds will step up to the plate. In the meantime, I am grateful for having had the opportunity to be a part of this process. Please come forward to vote and support Articles 44, 45 and 46.  


updated August 12, 2013     send email