Malden - Two of the docketed items at the City Council’s Feb. 6 meeting concerned a topic one wouldn’t necessarily expect to come up in city government: dogs. The council unanimously approved a change to the city’s ordinances that simplifies the registration of service dogs, better aligning the process with federal laws.
Malden allows for the registration of service dogs at no charge, but required the owner to receive a certification for the animal from the state Commission for the Blind. According to Ordinance Committee Chair Councilor Ryan O’Malley, that commission does not certify animals.
In addition, the previous ordinance did not mention service animals that assist people with conditions other than blindness. To rectify this, the ordinance was changed to better reflect state law, which in turn is based on the provisions in the Americans with Disabilities Act, and while there is a list of questions the city can ask those wishing to register service animals, the city is essentially going on the word of the owners.
“I can see this largely getting out of hand,” said Councilor Barbara Murphy of people potentially claiming a dog is for service purposes to skirt the licensing fee. “It looks like there’s nothing we can do about it.”Earlier in the meeting, the council referred an ordinance change to committee that would remove breed-specific legislation at the Trafton Dog Park.
The city currently does not allow pit bulls or pit bull mixes in the park unless muzzled. The change would remove that provision, as it contradicts with state law, which states, “No city or town shall regulate dogs in a manner that is specific to breed.”
The matter will be reviewed at a future meeting of the Ordinance Committee.