State & Local Legislation Affecting Animals

State & Local Legislation Affecting Animals

Leash Law

It is against the law for the owner or custodian of any animal to allow the animal to run at-large. Any dog or cat that is found at-large may be impounded. A Violation Notice may be issued by a County Police Officer or Animal Control Officer to the owner of an animal found at-large.

Stray Dogs and Cats

Anyone who picks up any stray animal must immediately notify and turn the animal over to the Animal Control Facility.

Removal of Excrement

The owner or custodian of any dog or cat is required to remove their pet’s excrement from public or private property unless otherwise allowed to remain on the property by the property owner or occupant thereof.

Dog or Cat in Heat

Any female dog or cat that is in heat must be kept confined in a building or a secure enclosure to prevent it from attracting or coming in contact with another dog or cat during this time.


Cruelty to animals is a misdemeanor that is punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000 or by imprisonment not to exceed 90 days, or both.


No person shall own, keep or harbor any dog, cat or ferret over the age of four months unless the animal is licensed. A valid certificate of rabies inoculation issued by a licensed veterinarian must accompany your license application. Dogs must wear a license tag on their collars at all times.

Effective February 3, 1997, all Pit Bulls in Prince George’s County must be registered with the Animal Management Division. Pit Bulls include any and all of the following dogs:

• Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed of dogs
• American Staffordshire Terrier breed of dogs
• American Pit Bull Terrier breed of dogs or dogs that exhibit the characteristics of a Pit Bull more than any other breed of dog

This registration tag must be worn by the Pit Bull at all times.


It is unlawful to abandon any dog, cat or other domestic animal.

Manner of Keeping Animals

No person shall keep or maintain any animal in such a manner as to cause the animal to become a public nuisance, or disturb the peace, comfort or health of any person.

Unnecessary Noises by Animals

Animals that cause frequent or continued noise will not be allowed to disturb the comfort or repose of any person in the vicinity. Any person disturbed by a noisy animal must advise the owner. If the nuisance is not abated, the person may then notify the Commission for Animal Control to file a complaint.

Rabies Control

No person shall own a dog, cat, or ferret over the age of four months without a current, valid rabies inoculation. Any animal that has bitten any human is required to be confined in quarantine for a ten-day clinical observation period. This does not apply to wildlife or species not authorized for quarantine by the Health Department. The confinement may be on the owner’s premises.

Injuring or Poisoning Animals

Any person who accidentally or otherwise strikes an animal with an automobile must notify the police or Animal Control Facility of the accident. No person shall willfully or negligently poison any animal.

Animal Hobby Permit

Anyone who keeps or harbors five or more animals larger than a guinea pig over the age of four months must first obtain an animal hobby permit. This section does not apply to licensed holding facilities, licensed veterinary hospitals, circus or traveling animal exhibitions, or the keeping of farm animals, fish or birds.

Pit Bulls

Pit Bulls born after February 3, 1997, are illegal and must be removed from the County.

For Pit Bulls owned prior to February 3, 1997, owners must provide written proof of ownership which could include rabies certificate, veterinarian bill, or other similar documentation. Pit Bulls owned prior to February 3, 1997, must be maintained within a building or kennel at all times. When outside, Pit Bulls must be kept under control of an adult and secured by an unbreakable or unseverable leash. Violations of the Pit Bull Law will result in fines up to $1,000 or a sentence of not more than six months imprisonment. (See Licensing above for more information.)

Prince George’s County
(301) 780-7200
TDD (301) 985-3894

Department of Environmental Resources
Animal Management Division
3750 Brown Station Road
Upper Marlboro, MD  20772