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Animal Laws and Policies

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 (PDF) describing what they believe to be a violation of the County’s animal laws to Baltimore County Animal Services. The affidavit must be notarized. After the notarized affidavit is submitted, the Animal Services 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.

Revised July 12, 2017         


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