State of Vermont Statutes

Title 20:  Internal Security and Public Safety

Chapter 193:  Domestic Pet or Wolf Hybrid Control


     In addition to the Westford Dog Ordinance, the State of Vermont has passed their own set of rules and regulations which the Town of Westford must abide by.  I’ve translated some of the rules, not included in the Westford Dog Ordinance, below into plain English, but  you can view the original set of ordinances by following this link. 


 Right to kill domestic pets or wolf hybrids

Is it illegal to kill pets?  According to the State of Vermont, a person may kill any domestic pet or wolf hybrid that attacks them, so long as it does not occur while the animal is restrained or within an enclosure on the premises of the owner. 

If any pet is found wounding, killing, or harassing other domestic pets or livestock, persons may kill the animal if it is reasonable to assume that it was necessary in order to prevent injury to the animals being attacked. 


Giving towns the rights to supervise and regulate domestic pets

The State of Vermont has given cities/towns  the legal authority to regulate the keeping of domestic pets.  This includes the right to impose civil penalties up to $500.00 per violation.  It can also penalize kennels which do not have the proper permits.  Cities/Towns may also designate an officer to enforce these regulations. 

Whenever the governing body of a town/city considers  placing a civil fine on someone, the following points must be taken into consideration: 

· What is the actual or potential impact on the public health, safety and welfare from this violation.

· Are there any mitigating circumstances

· Did the owners have reason to know the violation existed.

· What is the owners record of previous of compliance or non-compliance

· Will this penalty have a deterrent effect

· How much will it cost?

· Length of time the violation has existed.

Search Warrants

The State has given town/cities the right to issue search warrants whenever needed to enforce these ordinances.


All dogs over 6 months of age must be licensed annually on or before April 1st.  Extra fees apply to dogs which have not been sterilized.  Licensed Dogs must show proof of a current rabies vaccination. 

If a dog is obtained on or after April 1st which is 6 months old and over, they have a 30 day grace period to obtain a license. 



Anyone who keeps dogs for the purpose of breeding may take out a special license as long as they: 

Keep animals within a proper enclosure

Have current rabies vaccinations

Special rates apply in these circumstances.


Moving into the State

Anyone moving into the state of Vermont with Dogs, have 90 days to obtain the proper licenses. 


Non Licensed Dog Owners

One person shall maintain a list of al unlicensed/licensed dogs in the town/city.  Upon receipt of the list of unlicensed dog owners, beginning May 30th notifications will be sent out warning that unlicensed/uninoculated dogs may be destroyed.  Search Warrants may be issued by the town/city in order to seize any animals in non-compliance.


Who has the authority to destroy seized animals. 

Any Police Officer or Constable can humanely destroy any animal seized whenever a warrant has been issued authorizing such an action.  The action must be taken within 90 days of the issuance fo the warrant. 


Inspection of Kennels

Permits are required by those individuals maintaining pet kennels, which may be inspected.  If these inspections may impose a quarantine on the premises if it finds it to be unsanitary or inhumane.  Penalties will be issued in such cases. 


Impounding Dogs

Any person authorized by the town/city to enforce its local ordinances may confine or impound dog whenever: 


1. It is suspected of exposure to rabies, or believed to have been attacked by another animal which may have been rabid. 

2. It has been attacked by a wild animal.

3. It has been running at large and has an unknown rabies vaccination history.


Any animal impounded may be destroyed by an authorized person if it is impractical to confine or impound such animals, and the owners cannot be ascertained. 

Any animal suspected of rabies which has bitten a person or other domestic pet shall be destroyed immediately for the purposed of testing. 

Any person who kills a domestic pet suspected of being rabid, and who has attacked either a person or another domesticated pet, shall not be held liable for any damages relating to the killing. 


Proceeds generated, in part, from the licensing fees of dogs as well as donations, created the Animal Spaying and Neutering Fund.  This Fund helps provide families with low-cost sterilization programs to help stem the population of unwanted pets in Vermont. 

Looking to adopt a Pet?  Help find homes for needy pets at PETFINDER.COM