Animal Laws

Learn about the state and local laws that affect animal owners in Anne Arundel County. 

Anne Arundel County Code

Article 12, Title 4:  Animal Control

Maryland Code

Online Code

The Laws pertaining to animals can be found in the Criminal Law Section, Title 10. Crimes Against Public Health, Conduct, and Sensibilities, Under Subtitle 6. Crimes Relating to Animals Sections 10-601 through 10-623.

Summary of Laws

Below is a summary of some of the laws pertaining to animals in Anne Arundel County. For an all inclusive listing of the Anne Arundel County Code or MD State Code please use the links above.

An animal may not pose a threat to public safety. An animal poses a threat to public safety if the animal:

  • Inflicts severe injury to a person;
  • Bites a person;
  • Kills or inflicts injury to a domesticated animal;
  • Attacks a person;
  • While at large, chases or approaches a lawfully restrained domesticated animal in an aggressive manner;
  • While at large, chases or approaches a person in an aggressive manner; or
  • Engages in encouraged dogfighting activity or shows evidence of having been engaged in encouraged dogfighting activity.

Anyone who owns or harbors a cat or dog 4 months of age or older must have the animal vaccinated for rabies and be able to provide proof of vaccination.

The owner of any dog or cat 6 months of age or older must obtain a license for the animal.

The following are some, but not all, of the legal requirements if a dog is left outdoors:

  • A shelter to protect the dog from the wind, snow, rain, cold, and sunlight
  • Food daily that is adequate to maintain a healthy weight of the animal 
  • Water at all times
  • Natural or artificial shade separate from the shelter
  • From December 1-March 15 has a covered entryway to allow movement in and out or act as a windbreak
  • Has non-absorbent bedding 
  • Is of sufficient size

The owner of an animal may not permit the animal to be a public nuisance or to cause a public nuisance condition. Public nuisance includes the following acts by an animal:

  • Molesting pedestrians
  • Chasing vehicles
  • Damaging property of someone other than the owner of the animal

It is unlawful for a person who owns, keeps, or has possession of an animal to permit the animal to disturb the quiet of a person or neighborhood.

"At large" means off the property of an animal's owner and not leashed and under the control of a responsible person.  "Animal" means a vertebrate species of animal other than a human, including a dog, a cat, livestock, and fowl.

The owner of any animal shall be responsible for the removal of any excreta deposited by his or her animal on public walks, recreation areas, or private property other than his own.

Anyone violating any provisions of Article 12 Title 4 may be subject to a fine not less than $50.00 and up to $500.00.