September 25, 2019
A Prince George’s County (Maryland) policy committee is expected to consider numerous changes to the county’s animal laws at a hearing tomorrow, Thursday, September 26.
Those who reside or participate in dog events and activities in Maryland are strongly encouraged to contact the Prince George’s County committee and express concerns with how portions CB-46-2019 will impact responsible dog owners. AKC is also asking that the county consider removing its long-standing breed-specific laws since the proposal includes new comprehensive dangerous dog policies. Scroll down for committee contact information.
The AKC appreciates the County’s concerns about the well-being of all pets and the county residents. We also appreciate that many of the provisions emphasize the consideration of species, breed, age, etc., to ensure the needs of individual animals are met.
Prince George’s County also already has extensive laws, including kennel and breeder licensing and breed-specific regulations. AKC believes that the county should focus on general animal laws that promote the responsible care and ownership of all animals in the county. Additionally, AKC is asking for clarification and amendments on a myriad of items in the proposed ordinance, including:
- Definitions and Regulations for “Potentially Dangerous” and “Dangerous” Dogs – The AKC supports the idea in the proposal of differentiating between “potentially dangerous” and “dangerous” dogs based on the dog’s actions (and the severity of those actions). However, AKC is asking for several clarifications. For example, a dog could be declared dangerous for any injury it inflicts. AKC recommends that the proposal differentiates between a minor injury (such as one that breaks the skin, or a scratch, which could be a dog that is not truly dangerous) and serious injuries (such as those that require medical treatment).
In addition, while appropriate obedience training is required for dangerous dogs, it is not required for dogs considered “potentially dangerous”. AKC recommends this be changed so that behaviors may be addressed before a more serious incident occurs. Also, AKC requests that the mandatory sterilization requirements in the proposal only apply to truly dangerous animals, and not those instances where the owner may take steps to correct a dog’s actions and prevent more serious incidents.
- Breed-specific laws – The county has long enforced breed-specific laws. In light of their attempt to draft new, comprehensive dangerous dog laws, AKC is asking that the county remove the breed-specific laws, as the new proposed policies would address the behavior of all dogs and the responsibility of all owners.
- Vague requirement to consider “psychological and emotional well-being” – The AKC absolutely believes that all dogs deserve a life in a safe, humane, and caring environment. However, we believe that this requirement, included under the definition of “proper care” of animals, is unconstitutionally vague and will prove virtually impossible to determine and, therefore, enforce. AKC recommends that the county’s focus be on the proper humane care of the animals through enforceable, quantifiable measures.
- Prohibition on keeping dogs outdoors in certain temperatures – In part, the proposal would prohibit any domestic animal from being kept outside when the wind chill is 32 degrees or lower, or the heat index is 90 degrees or higher. This does not take into account that certain breeds thrive outside these temperatures, nor does it consider that some breeds require a more moderate climate and even a brief time in temperatures permitted under this proposal could jeopardize the dog’s health. Instead, AKC recommends that no domestic animal should be left outside in temperatures that could endanger the animal’s health or safety.
- Arbitrary tethering requirements – The AKC appreciates that the tethering provisions in the proposal allow for temporary restraining, including tethering at events, for grooming, etc. We also agree that inhumane tethering that endangers a dog should never be permitted. AKC is asking for clarifications of certain provisions, including not being permitted to put a leash around a dog’s neck – which could potentially, with this vague description, include slip leads used in a humane manner at dog shows, veterinary clinics, animal shelters, among others.
- Potential mandatory sterilization for any violation – Under this proposal, the Commission for Animal Control could, at its discretion, unreasonably mandate the sterilization of a dog for all violations of this subtitle. AKC is seeking clarification so that this not be an option for first-time, minor, or correctable infractions, but limited to multiple repeat offenders, egregious violations, or truly dangerous/vicious dogs.
- Potential 5-year ownership ban for violations – The AKC absolutely agrees that owners should be held accountable for their pets, both for the animal’s sake as well as that of the community. We also agree that those who cruelly treat and harm animals should not own them. Our concern is that it would appear under this proposal that an owner who commits a minor infraction could result in a person being banned from owning an animal for five years. While we understand that there is the right to petition for a waiver based on good cause shown, AKC is asking that this section be clarified so that this provision not apply to first-time or minor offenses.
Prince George’s County residents are encouraged to review the ordinance to see how it would impact them and their dogs.
What You Can Do:
- Attend the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy, and Environment (TIEE) Committee Hearing and express your comments and concerns with CB-46-2019 as introduced and request clarifications. The hearing details are as follows:Thursday, September 26, 2019
County Administration Building
14741 Governor Oden Bowie Drive, Committee Hearing Room 2027
Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20772
- Contact the members of the committee and express your comments and concerns with CB-46-2019 as introduced and request clarifications:
Deni L. Taveras, Chair
DLTaveras@co.pg.md.usMonique Anderson-Walker, Vice-Chair
Thomas E. Dernoga
Dannielle M. Glaros
Todd M. Turner (Chair of the County Council)
AKC Government Relations will continue to monitor this bill and provide more information as it becomes available. For questions, please contact AKC GR at firstname.lastname@example.org.