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Animal Laws and Policies

Baltimore County Animal Services
13800 Manor Road
Baldwin, Maryland 21013

Phone: 410-887-PAWS (7297)
Fax: 410-817-4257
TTY users call via Maryland Relay

Animal Laws

  1. When off the owner’s property, all dogs and cats must be on a leash. If chained outside, chains must have swivels. Chain collars may not be used, except when training.   

  2. All dogs and cats four months of age must be vaccinated against rabies.

  3. All dogs and cats must be licensed at four months of age. New pets and those being moved into Baltimore County must be licensed within 30 days.       

  4. All animals must be provided shelter for protection from wind, snow, rain, cold and the sun, plus adequate daily food and water in clean, untippable bowls.

  5. Owners of female cats and dogs “in heat” must not leave their pets outside unattended. Although spaying female or neutering male animals is not required, it is highly recommended.

  6. It is a violation of the law to allow dogs to bark excessively.

  7. If an animal bites someone, the owner and the bite victim must report the injury to the Police Department. You are responsible if your pet bites or injures another person or animal, or behaves in a menacing way.

  8. Owners are responsible for the timely removal of pet waste on public and private property.

  9. It is violation of the law to abandon or neglect pets you cannot keep. If you are unable to keep your pet call Animal Control for assistance.

  10. Any puppy or kitten sold or given away must be at least eight weeks old. Anyone selling or giving away a puppy, kitten, dog or cat must provide a health certificate signed by a licensed veterinarian, along with a statement indicating date of sale or transfer of animal, description of animal and immunizations given. The name, address, and phone number of buyer and seller must also be provided.

  11. Inadequate provision of food or water, unsanitary conditions, animal combat and neglect are all considered animal cruelty.

For complete information on County animal laws, see Article 12 of the Baltimore County Code.

Citations for Violation of Animal Laws

Individuals may submit an affidavit of complaint describing what they believe to be a violation of the County’s animal laws to the Baltimore County Animal Services Division. The affidavit must be notarized. After the notarized affidavit is submitted, the Animal Services Division will determine whether a citation is warranted. 

If a citation has been issued, the cited party may:

  • Pay the fine within five days.
  • Request an appeal hearing in writing within five days. Both parties will be scheduled to appear and testify before the Animal Hearing Board. In order for the Board to uphold the charges in the citation and levy a fine, the complainant must appear.

Instructions are printed on the citations.

Affidavits of complaint are public information, therefore, anyone may review any complaint filed. If you are notified by the Animal Services Division that a complaint was filed against you, you may obtain the name and address of the complainant (if available) by written request.

Lost Pets

County law requires that persons who find or otherwise come into possession of a stray animal must turn the animal over to the Animal Services Division within 24 hours. The Baltimore County Animal Shelter is the only shelter in Baltimore County that is authorized by law to hold lost animals for their owners, therefore, persons have only one shelter to call or visit to find their pets. 

When animals come into the shelter as a lost pet, the following occurs:

  • The animal is scanned for a microchip.
  • The animal is vaccinated.
  • Shelter staff review lost animal reports to determine if there is a match.
  • Websites such as Craigslist and Facebook are reviewed several times each day for a possible match.

If you lose your pet, you may email a photo to, or call the shelter. However, the best way to determine if your animal is at the Baltimore County Animal Shelter is to visit the shelter in person.

After three days, including Saturdays and Sundays, any pet not claimed by its owner may be adopted. Healthy, adoptable pets are held as long as there is adequate space and resources to keep them. For more information, contact the Animal Services Division by calling 410-887- PAWS (7297). 

Revised November 2, 2016         


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