Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Pit Bull Law and Animal Control

The issue of pit bulls in Prince George’s County was settled long ago by ordinance. Pit Bulls are defined as:

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

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. The County encourages residents to report suspected violations of the Pit Bull Law to Animal Control at 301-499-8300.

The Mount Rainier Police will respond to incidents of violent or dangerous dogs, regardless of breed. Our officers will report these animals to Animal Control, whose responsibility it is to come and assess and/or remove the dog if necessary. Animal Control’s normal business hours are from 7 AM until Midnight. After hours, their phones are forwarded to an answering service. The service will contact the on-call Animal Control officer for complaints received after normal business hours. Contrary to what we’ve been told in the past, they will respond to complaints regardless of whether or not the dog is confined. If the animal is running loose Animal Control will attempt to catch it, and failing that, attempt to locate the owner. On the other hand, MRPD officers will not try and catch a stray or loose animal. We do not have the proper tools to protect the animal or ourselves from potential injury. If we can identify the animal’s owner, we will try and notify the owner to come and get their pet. Failing that, we rely on Animal Control to corral strays and loose dogs.

Animal Control will also respond to determine if an animal is being kept illegally, i.e., in violation of the Pit Bull Law. If the animal is in violation of the County Code, the owner will be asked to voluntarily sign the dog over to Animal Control. If the owner does that, the Animal Control Officer will take custody of the dog. Should the owner refuse, the police will be called to the residence, and if the owner continues to refuse, he/she will be arrested and Animal Control will seize the dog pursuant to the arrest.

It is important to notify Animal Control whenever you suspect someone is keeping an animal illegally, or if you have reason to believe a particular animal is dangerous to the community. Certainly, if a dangerous animal is on the loose you should call our police communications center at 301-985-6565 so that one of our officers can respond to help control the situation. You may contact Animal Control directly by calling 301-499-8300.

1 comment:

AnimalEnthuist said...

Great article. Very interesting and informative!