[HISTORY: Adopted by the Commissioners of the Town of Ridgely 6-2-1997 by Ord. No. 141. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Noise — See Ch. 119.
Section 32A, Article 6, Animal Control, of the Public Local Laws of Caroline County, Maryland, or corresponding future provision thereof, shall apply within the corporate limits of the Town of Ridgely. Whenever in this chapter the Town Animal Control Officer is directed to perform any act which the county ordinance requires to be performed by the County Animal Control Officer, the Town Animal Control Officer may refer the performance of such act to the County Animal Control Officer unless otherwise directed by the President of the Commissioners.
For the purpose of this chapter, the following words and phrases shall have the meaning indicated:
- Every species of animal except man.
- AT LARGE
- An animal shall be deemed at large whenever the animal is not on the owner's property or under the immediate physical control of a responsible person capable of physically restraining the animal, either by leash, cord, chain or similar means.
- KEEPING OR HARBORING
- The act or sufferance either of feeding or sheltering an animal on the premises of the occupant or the owner thereof.
- Any person, firm or corporation having a property right in an animal or any person who keeps or harbors an animal or has or has had it in his or her care or acts as custodian or permits it to remain on or about any premises controlled or occupied by him or her for more than two weeks.
- PUBLIC NUISANCE
- Any animal found repeatedly making loud or objectionable sounds, damaging property, molesting passersby, chasing vehicles or acting in any manner which is deemed to be doing damage to property or to the public health and well-being or which is known to have bitten two or more persons or shall have been determined by the County Animal Control Officer, the County Public Health Officer or the Town police to be a detriment to public health, welfare or safety shall be deemed to be a public nuisance. If a dead animal is not properly disposed of and is deemed to be a public nuisance by reason of its appearance or odor or for public health reasons, its owner may be charged with maintaining a public nuisance by the County Animal Control Officer, the County Public Health Officer or the Town police.
- TOWN ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER
- Any member of the Ridgely Town Police Department and any other person designated as such by the President of the Commissioners.
Owners of animals shall provide each animal with sufficient food and water and provide shelter from sunlight, rain, snow and cold. Veterinary care shall be provided as needed in order to prevent suffering and to give humane care and treatment.
No person shall poison or attempt to poison any animal other than rodents.
Any person who strikes an animal with an automobile or who injures an animal in any way, accidentally or otherwise, shall notify the Town Clerk/Treasurer.
No person shall mistreat or abandon any animal.
Owners shall exercise care and control of all animals so as to prevent the same from becoming a public nuisance.
Any Maryland-licensed veterinarian is hereby authorized to immediately and humanely euthanize a suffering animal without liability whenever the owner cannot be promptly identified or contacted.
The owner of an animal shall be responsible for the removal of any excretion deposited by the animal on public walks or roads, recreation areas or private property.
While in heat, every female dog shall be kept confined in a building or secured enclosure by the owner in such a manner that she will not be in contact (except for intentional breeding purposes) with another dog or create a public nuisance by attracting other dogs.
The breeding, feeding, pasturing and/or penning of horses, hogs, pigs, poultry, pigeons, rabbits, hares or guinea pigs and the maintenance of stables, chicken or pigeon coops, piggeries, pig pens or pig runs within the limits of the Town is hereby prohibited.
It shall be unlawful for any person to permit an animal to be turned loose or to be allowed to run at large within the Town limits or to leave a draft animal, whether hitched to a vehicle or not, to stand upon any street or alley without being securely tied or fastened or in the immediate custody of the owner, driver or some competent person.
No person shall own or have custody of any dog over four months of age unless the dog is licensed by Caroline County in accordance with Caroline County public local laws and has been vaccinated against rabies in a procedure approved by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. This provision shall not apply to dogs in the Town owned by a nonresident, provided that the dogs are duly licensed in their home city, county or state and provided that the owner sends a valid rabies vaccination certificate for the dog while the dog is in Town.
It shall be unlawful for the owner to permit his or her dog to run at large or to permit his or her animal to constitute a public nuisance.
Whenever any person finds a dog running at large with or without a license tag or believes an animal constitutes a public nuisance, he or she may notify any Town Animal Control Officer, who may cause the animal to be taken and impounded. Upon the capture of any dog, the Animal Control Officer shall make a genuine effort to notify the owner of its capture, if his or her identity can be ascertained through license records, if any, or otherwise. The dog may be confined and disposed of either by being destroyed or being offered for adoption if not identified and claimed within five days after its capture. No owner may claim his or her dog unless and until all charges incident to the confinement of the dog shall be paid. A dog found at large and unlicensed which during the episode has bitten a human shall not be released from impoundment, except as authorized by a court order, but shall become the property of the Town and shall be humanely destroyed after 72 hours and its brain tested for rabies.
Female dogs in heat found running at large shall be taken and impounded. Any female dog so captured may be redeemed by the owner thereof upon payment of the impoundment service fee as provided in § 64-10. If the same dog belonging to the owner shall be impounded for a second time within 12 months, the dog cannot be reclaimed by the owner thereof unless the owner shall pay for the spaying of the dog within one week after notice.
If a dog is believed to have rabies or has been bitten by a dog suspected of having rabies, the dog or dogs shall be confined by a leash or chain on the owner's premises and shall be placed under the observation of a veterinarian at the expense of the owner for a period of two weeks. The owner shall notify the Animal Control Officer of the fact that his or her dog has been exposed to rabies, and, at his or her discretion, the Animal Control Officer is empowered to have the dog removed from the owner's premises to a veterinary hospital and there placed under observation for a period of two weeks at the expense of the owner.
[Amended 5-3-1999 by Ord. No. 187]
It shall be unlawful for any person knowing or suspecting a dog to have rabies to allow the dog to be taken off his or her premises or beyond the limits of the Town without the written permission of the Animal Control Officer. Every owner or other person, upon ascertaining that a dog is rabid, shall immediately notify the Animal Control Officer, who shall either remove the dog to the pound or, if required under the circumstances, summarily destroy it.
Whenever a dog is impounded pursuant to this chapter or any other provision of the law, the owner thereof shall pay an impounding fee of $50 for a dog with a valid license and $100 for a dog subject to license and without a current valid license and costs of any required veterinary services and furnish satisfactory evidence that the dog is licensed before release.
Where the owner of an impounded dog can be ascertained, the owner shall be liable for the impounding fee and other proper charges even in cases where the dog is disposed of pursuant to this chapter.
No person shall attempt to interfere with the Animal Control Officer, Animal Warden or any other authorized person in the performance of his or her duties, nor shall any person attempt to or release without authority any animal impounded pursuant to the animal control laws of the Town.
Any structure or place used for the housing, maintaining or breeding of two or more dogs (or other animals) for which a fee is charged, or five or more dogs whether or not a fee is charged, shall be deemed a commercial kennel.
It shall be unlawful to maintain any kennel, commercial or otherwise, within the corporate limits of the Town that becomes a nuisance. If upon an investigation by the Town or County Animal Control Officer a kennel is found to be a nuisance, it shall be the owner's duty to close the kennel and remove the dogs or bitches from the corporate limits of the Town within 24 hours. Upon failure of the owner to comply, the Animal Control Officer shall have the dogs or bitches impounded. However, nothing in this subsection is intended to interfere with the proper operations of animal hospitals.
[Amended by Ord. No. 234, effective 9-9-2002]
Purpose and intent. The purpose of this section is to promote the public health, safety, and general welfare of the citizens of the Town of Ridgely. It is intended to be applicable to "dangerous" dogs, as defined herein, and to regulate dogs that are commonly referred to as "pit bulls," as defined herein, by ensuring responsible handling by their owners through registration, confinement, and liability insurance. The Town of Ridgely Police Department (Town Police Department) is designated as the lead agency charged with the administration and enforcement of this section.
Definitions. As used in this section, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- BOARD OF ANIMAL CONTROL
- Consists of the Chief of Police, the Chairman of the Board of Zoning Appeals, and one member of the public who has demonstrated an interest in the matter of animal control.
- DANGEROUS DOG
- A "pit bull dog," as defined in this subsection, or any dog that, because of its aggressive nature, training, or characteristic behavior, presents a risk of serious physical harm or death to human beings, or would constitute a danger to human life, physical well-being, or property if not kept under the direct control of the owner. This definition shall not apply to dogs utilized by law enforcement officers in the performance of their duties. The term "dangerous dog" includes any dog that according to the records of Caroline County Animal Control or any law enforcement agency:
- (1) Has aggressively bitten, attacked, endangered, or inflicted serious injury on a human being on public or private property;
- (2) Has severely injured or killed a domestic animal while off the owner's property; or
- (3) Has been used primarily or in part for the purpose of dog fighting, or is a dog trained for dog fighting.
- The executive officer of the Board of Animal Control. Until a Director
has been appointed by the Mayor, the Chief of Police shall act as Director.[Amended 2-3-2003 by Ord. No. 239]
- A device constructed of strong, soft material or of metal, designed to fasten over the mouth of an animal to prevent the animal from biting any person or other animal.
- PIT BULL DOG
- Includes any of the following dogs:
- (1) The Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed of dogs.
- (2) The American Staffordshire Terrier breed of dogs.
- (3) The American Pit Bull Terrier breed of dogs.
- (4) Dogs that have the appearance and characteristics of being predominantly of the breeds of dogs known as "Staffordshire Bull Terrier," "American Pit Bull Terrier," or "American Staffordshire Terrier."
Procedure for declaring a dog dangerous.
An animal control officer or any adult person may request under oath that a dog be classified as dangerous by submitting a sworn, written complaint on a form approved by the Commissioners of Ridgely to the Board of Animal Control. Upon receipt of such complaint, the Board of Animal Control shall notify the owner of the dog that a complaint has been filed and that an investigation into the allegations as set forth in the complaint will be conducted.
At the conclusion of an investigation, the Board of Animal Control may:
Determine that the dog is not dangerous and, if the dog is impounded, waive any impoundment fees incurred and release the dog to its owner; or
Determine that the dog is dangerous and order the owner to comply with the requirements for keeping dangerous dogs set forth in § 64-14G, and if the dog is impounded, release the dog to its owner after the owner has paid all fees incurred for the impoundment. If all impoundment fees have not been paid within 10 business days after a final determination that a dog is dangerous, the Board of Animal Control may cause the dog to be humanely destroyed.
Notification of dangerous dog declaration.
Within five business days after the Board of Animal Control has declared a dog dangerous, the Town Clerk-Treasurer shall notify the owner by certified mail of the dog's designation as a dangerous dog and any specific restrictions and conditions for keeping the dog, as set forth in § 64-14G of this section. The Town Clerk-Treasurer also shall notify the Town Police Department of the designation of any dog as a dangerous dog. Such notification shall describe the dog and specify any particular requirements or conditions placed upon the dog owner.
The notice shall inform the dog owner that he may request, in writing, a hearing to contest the Board's finding and designation within five business days after delivery of the dangerous dog declaration notice.
If the Town Clerk-Treasurer cannot with due diligence locate the owner of a dog that has been seized pursuant to this section, the Board of Animal Control shall cause the dog to be impounded for not less than five business days. If, after five days, the owner fails to claim the dog, the Board of Animal Control may cause the dog to be humanely destroyed.
Hearing on dangerous dog declaration.
The Board of Animal Control shall hold a hearing within 15 business days after receiving the dog owner's written request for such a hearing. The Board shall provide notice of the date, time and location of the hearing to the dog owner by certified mail and to the complainant by regular mail.
At a hearing, all interested persons shall be given the opportunity to present evidence on the issue of the dog's dangerousness. Criteria to be considered in a hearing required by this section shall include but not be limited to the following:
A determination at a hearing that the dog is in fact a dangerous dog shall subject the dog and its owner to the provisions of this section.
Failure of the dog owner to request a hearing shall result in the dog being finally declared a dangerous dog and shall subject the dog and its owner to the provisions of this section.
Appeal from dangerous dog declaration. If the Board of Animal Control determines that a dog is dangerous at the conclusion of a hearing conducted under § 64-14E, that decision shall be final unless the dog owner applies to a court of competent jurisdiction for any remedies that may be available within five days after receiving notice that the dog has been finally declared dangerous. The appeal must be a trial de novo and shall be a civil proceeding for the purpose of affirming or reversing the Board's determination of dangerousness.
Keeping of dangerous dogs. The keeping of a dangerous dog as defined in § 64-14B shall be subject to the following requirements:
Leash. No person having charge, custody, control or possession of a dangerous dog shall allow the dog to exit its kennel, pen or other proper enclosure unless such dog is securely attached to a chain leash no more than four feet in length. No such person shall permit a dangerous dog to be kept on a chain leash outside its kennel, pen or other proper enclosure unless a person capable of controlling the dog is in physical control of the leash. Under no circumstances shall an individual under the age of 21 years old be allowed to be in possession or control of a dangerous dog when it leaves the residence of the owner.
Muzzle. It shall be unlawful for any owner or keeper of a dangerous dog to allow the dog to be outside of its kennel, pen or other proper enclosure unless it is necessary for the dog to receive veterinary care or exercise. In such cases, the dog shall wear a properly fitted muzzle to prevent it from biting humans or other animals. Such muzzle shall not interfere with the dog's breathing or vision.
Confinement. Except when leashed as provided in this section, a dangerous dog shall be securely confined indoors or confined in a locked kennel, pen or other secure enclosure that is suitable to prevent the entry of children and is designed to prevent the dog from escaping. The enclosed structure shall meet the following requirements:
The structure must have secure sides and a secure top, or all sides must be at least eight feet high;
The structure must have a bottom permanently attached to the sides or the sides must be embedded not less than one foot into the ground; and
The structure must be of such material and closed in such a manner that the dog cannot exit the enclosure on its own.
Indoor confinement. No dangerous dog shall be kept on a porch, patio, or in any part of a house or structure that would allow the dog to exit such building on its own volition. In addition, no such dog shall be kept in a house or structure when the windows or screen doors are the only obstacle preventing the dog from exiting the structure.
Liability insurance; surety bond. The owner of a dangerous dog shall present to the Town Clerk-Treasurer and Caroline County Animal Control proof that he has procured liability insurance or a surety bond in the amount of not less than $100,000 covering any damage or injury that may be caused by such dog. The policy shall contain a provision requiring that the Town Clerk-Treasurer be notified immediately by the agent issuing the policy in the event that the insurance policy is canceled, terminated, or expires. In the event that the owner proves to the satisfaction of the Town Clerk-Treasurer that insurance is not available, he may pay a nonrefundable cash fee in the amount of $1,000 to the Town.
Notification of escape. The owner or keeper of a dangerous dog shall notify the Town Police Department and Caroline County Animal Control immediately if such dog escapes from its enclosure or restraint and is at large. Such immediate notification shall also be required if the dog bites or attacks a person or domestic animal.
Failure to comply. It shall be unlawful and a misdemeanor for any owner of a dangerous dog to fail to comply with the requirements and conditions set forth in this section. Any dog found to be in violation of this section shall be subject to immediate seizure and impoundment. In addition, failure to comply with the requirements and conditions set forth in this section shall result in the revocation of the dog's license and the permit providing for the keeping of such animal.
Permit and tag required for a dangerous dog.
The owner of a dangerous dog shall, within three business days after the classification of the dog as dangerous or upon acquisition of the dog, annually register to obtain a permit from the Town Clerk-Treasurer to harbor the dog.
Only persons 21 years of age or older shall be allowed to own, keep or harbor a dangerous dog inside the Town's limits. The owner must offer proof of age through a valid state-issued identification card (e.g., driver's license) or certified birth certificate.
Such ownership is subject to the following conditions:
A color photograph of the dog showing its size and color;
Proof of home ownership (e.g., deed, homeowner's policy, mortgage coupon) or lease with express written permission from the landlord allowing said dog to be harbored on the premises; and
The fee for such permit shall be $100 per year.
The registration process and issuance of the permit will result in the issuance of a special tag, to be attached at all times to the dog's collar, so that an animal control officer or Town police officer may readily determine if the dog has been registered.
Upon registration, the permit issued by the Town Clerk-Treasurer shall be carried by the owner at all times and the permit must be presented to an animal control officer or Town police officer upon demand.
Pit bull dogs presumed dangerous. There shall be an irrefutable presumption that a pit bull dog is a dangerous dog and is therefore subject to the requirements of this section.
Notification of intent to impound.
When an animal control officer or Town police officer intends to impound a dog declared to be dangerous by reason of its having committed any of the acts described in § 64-14G, he shall notify the owner or custodian of the dog, by personal delivery or by certified mail, of the intended impoundment at least five business days prior to the intended impoundment, except as provided in § 64-14K.
The notice of intent to impound shall inform the owner or custodian of the dog that he may request in writing, within five business days prior to the intended impoundment, a hearing before the Board of Animal Control to contest the intended impoundment and finding of a violation.
Upon request by the owner or custodian of the dog for a hearing pursuant to Subsection J(2), a hearing shall be held within 10 business days after the request for a hearing. Notice of the date, time and location of the hearing shall be provided by certified mail to the dog's owner or custodian requesting such hearing.
A dog declared to be dangerous may be immediately impounded without a pre-impoundment hearing when a law enforcement person having jurisdiction in the matter or any County Animal Control Officer determines such immediate impoundment is necessary for the protection of public health or safety. Such immediate impoundment may be ordered for violation of § 64-14G or when the dog bites a person or domestic animal.
The owner or custodian of the dog immediately impounded pursuant to Subsection K(1) shall be notified of the impoundment by certified mail within five business days after the dog's impoundment.
The notice of impoundment shall inform the owner or custodian of the dog that he may request, in writing, a hearing to contest the impoundment within five business days after the mailing of the notice of impoundment.
If, after a hearing on impoundment, the Board of Animal Control finds no violation of § 64-14G, or that the dog has not bitten an individual or domestic animal, the dog shall be returned to its owner or custodian if already impounded, or shall not be impounded as intended.
Incident to the findings and conclusions made at the impoundment hearing, the Board of Animal Control may impose reasonable restrictions and conditions for the maintenance of the dog to ensure the health and safety of the public and the animal. Such conditions may include, but shall not be limited to:
Posting of bond or other proof of ability to respond in damages;
Specific requirement as to size, construction and design of a kennel in which to house the dog;
Requirements as to type and method of restraint and/or muzzling of the dog;
Permanent marking of the dog for purposes of identification; and
Payment of reasonable fees to recover the costs incurred by the Town in ensuring compliance with this section.
The Board of Animal Control or its designee may order the destruction of a dog that it determines to be dangerous to public health or safety, a dog that has made a vicious attack upon an individual, or a dog declared dangerous whose owner is unable or unwilling to adequately restrain it.
The Board of Animal Control shall give written notice by certified mail of its intention to destroy such dog to the owner or custodian of the dog, who may request in writing, within 10 business days after delivery of such notice, a hearing to contest the intended destruction.
If no hearing is requested pursuant to Subsection M(2), the dog shall be destroyed pursuant to applicable provisions of law.
If a hearing is requested pursuant to Subsection M(2), such hearing shall be held within 10 business days after the request; and the dog shall not be destroyed prior to the conclusion of the hearing.
The dog owner shall be responsible for payment of all boarding costs and other fees as may be required for the Town to humanely and safely keep the animal during any legal proceeding.
Appeal from order of humane destruction. If the Board of Animal Control orders a dangerous dog to be humanely destroyed, that decision shall be final unless the dog owner applies to a court of competent jurisdiction for any remedies that may be available within 15 days after receiving notice of the destruction order. If an appeal is timely filed, the Board shall suspend the destruction order pending the final determination of the court. The appeal hearing must be a trial de novo and shall be a civil proceeding for the purpose of affirming or reversing the Board's destruction order.
Change of ownership.
Any owner of a dangerous dog who sells or otherwise transfers ownership, custody or residence of the dog shall, within 10 business days after such change of ownership or residence, provide written notification to the Board of Animal Control of the name, address and telephone number of the new owner. It also shall be the responsibility of the person transferring ownership or custody of the dog to provide written notification of the dog's classification as dangerous to the person receiving the dog. The previous owner shall furnish a copy of such notification to the Board of Animal Control, along with written acknowledgment by the new owner of his receipt of such notification. The Board of Animal Control shall notify the Town Police Department of any changes of ownership, custody or residence of the dog within three business days after receiving the required information from the previous owner.
Any person receiving a dog classified as dangerous must obtain the required permit, tag and enclosure prior to acquisition of the dog. The new owner shall comply fully with the provisions of this section pertaining to obtaining liability insurance, payment of fees, and maintenance, control and ownership of a dangerous dog.
Continuation of dangerous dog declaration. Any dog that has been declared dangerous by any agency or department of this Town, another municipality, county, or state shall be subject to the provisions of this section for the remainder of its life. The person owning or having custody of any dog designated as a dangerous dog by any municipality, county, or state government shall notify the Board of Animal Control of the dog's address and conditions of maintenance within five days of moving the animal into the Town of Ridgely. The restrictions and conditions of maintenance of any dog declared dangerous by this Town, another municipality, county, or state shall remain in force while the dog remains in the Town.
Except as otherwise provided in § 64-14 of this chapter, any person violating any provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a municipal infraction.