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Washington County Laws

  • Washington County Animal Control Ordinance. For a full copy of Animal Control Ordinance (Revision 5 – effective January 1, 2013) please click here. To learn more about Washington County Government, please click here.

  • Animals at Large. No owner of any animal shall allow his animal to be at large in the county. Any animal found at large shall be impounded by the Animal Control Agency and/or any Animal Control Officer and taken to the county animal shelter.

  • Removal of Excrement. The owner of every animal shall be responsible for the removal of excreta deposited by his animal on public byways, recreational areas or private property.

  • Licensing. No person shall own or harbor any dog over the age of four (4) months unless such dog is licensed. A valid certificate of rabies inoculation issued by a licensed veterinarian or anti-rabies clinic shall accompany the application for a license. A metal dog license tag shall be attached to each dog’s collar and worn by the dog at all times. The licensing requirement does not apply to any dog belonging to a nonresident of the county and kept within the boundaries of the county for not longer than thirty (30) days.

  • Dogs in Heat. The owner, agent or custodian of any female dog in heat must guard and protect the dog so that she will not be out of doors except on the owner’s property for the purpose of regular exercise, under direct control of such person.

  • Excessive Noise by Animals. No person shall keep any animal that, by causing frequent or long continued noise, shall disturb the comfort or repose of any person in the vicinity. If the nuisance is not abated, the person can then notify the animal control authorities.

  • Rabies Control. All dogs and cats at the age of four (4) months in Washington County, Maryland shall be currently immunized against the rabies virus by a licensed veterinarian. The animal control agency shall continue or provide for the confinement of any domestic animal that has bitten any person for observation for a period of no less than ten (10) consecutive calendar days. Confinement may occur on the premises of the animal owner. Any owner, keeper, or harborer of an animal known to have bitten, shall immediately report such bite to any law enforcement agency in Washington County, Maryland.

  • Sale or Distribution of Puppies and Kittens. A person may not sell or distribute, except when given to any government operated or supported animal shelter or any society or association duly incorporated for the prevention of cruelty to animals, any domestic dog or cat less than eight weeks old.

Maryland State Laws

  • Abandonment It is unlawful to abandon any dog, cat, or other domesticated animal.

  • Cruelty to animals is now a FELONY punishable by a fine not to exceed $5,000 or by imprisonment not to exceed three (3) years or both. Failure to provide nutritious food in sufficient quantity, necessary veterinary care, proper drink, air, space, shelter or protection from the weather also constitutes cruelty to animals.

After Hours Calls for the HSWC Field Services Office

A Field Services Officer will respond to an after-hours call for the following situations:

  • Sick or injured domestic animals

  • Sick or injured wild animals that have come in contact with domestic animals or people

  • Public safety threats, such as a stray dog that has bitten and is still loose in the area

  • A dog that is chasing people or fighting with other dogs

  • Animals that are trapped in unsafe conditions

  • Animals confined in vehicles

  • Animals without shelter in extreme weather

  • Animals that are being cruelly beaten

  • Animals without water in extreme conditions

  • Loose livestock on the highway posing a traffic hazard (Law Enforcement shall be notified)

  • Assist Law enforcement (strays are not included)

A Field Services Officer will not respond to an after-hours call for the following situations:

  • Barking

  • Loose, but not aggressive dog

  • A dog that acted aggressively, bit or was otherwise aggressive and is currently contained by the owner

  • Bites to a human - Hagerstown PD, Washington County Sherriff’s department, or the Maryland State Police are responsible for taking the initial bite reports. If the dog is now back in the owner’s or caretaker’s possession, the FSO will not respond unless requested by law enforcement.

  • Welfare checks involving thin animals, unless it is life threatening

  • Animals without shelter if the weather is pleasant

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