Council Discusses Changes In Animal Welfare Laws

One of them deals with spaying and neutering.



Frederick, Md (KM)  The Frederick County Council is considering changes to local animal welfare laws. During Tuesday’s workshop, members were introduced to three proposals. One would require pet owners to keep their dogs restrained using a leash or chain. Exceptions would be made for dog parks and farm animals.

Another change would cover tethering. Under current law, no one is permitted to tether, fasten, chain, tie or restrain a dog to a stationary or inanimate object for more than 10 hours in a 24-hour period. The proposed change would reduce that to three hours.

The final change deals with spaying and neutering. The present ordnance says dog and cat licenses cost $15 if they are unaltered. However, if the individual licenses exceed $40 for dogs and cats, the owners may request a multiple domestic animal license or blanket kennel or cattery license for $40 annually, provided the owner provides duplicate copies of rabies certificates to the County and owner notifies the Animal Control Center.

The change to this law would prohibit the issuance of multiple domestic licenses or blanket kennel cattery licenses to any animal that has not been spayed or neutered. This encourages the practice of spaying and neutering, according to Councilman Jerry Donald, who introduced the changes. People who use their dogs or cats for breeding would need to pay a nominal fee per animal.

“We seen a number of cat hoarders in recent years. And this is a concern both for the animals and people who deal with the animals,” he says.

Councilman Billy Shreve said he wanted data before voting on whether to go forward with these changes. “I don’t see data to support anything that we’re asking for,” he said. “I want to see that there’s something to support this before moving forward.”

He also wondered why the county doesn’t eliminate the tethering section of the law when no fines of citations have been issued. “The tethering restriction sounds like it’s not a problem. We never given out a fine for it. Why don’t we just get rid of it instead of decreasing the number of hours,” he said.

Linda Shea, Animal Control Director, said the law acts as a deterrence. “We left back at the shelter cases that we’ve served on where a tethered dog was a problem,” she said. “While we’re not seeing the citations written, we’re not putting people in jail, that does serve as a deterrent. So I would discourage getting rid of it entirely. And I think the four hours is reasonable.”

Also during discussion, the question of what to do with residents who don’t renew the pets’ licenses. Shea said several efforts have been tried in the past to get citizens to comply. “We added a notation on the tax bills that go out. We wanted to save resources so that when tax bills go out, there was one-line sentence in there. We did postcards, but it was just not cost effective,” she said.

Councilman Tony Chmelik recommended a one-time fee for the life of the animal. “I got my dog licensed so that it’s in a data base. If there’s an incident, and we can explain that, and it kind of makes sense. I think that’s a good use of that. It might encourage more people to license their animals if it’s a one-time fee,” he said. Chmelik even suggested the one-time fee for licensing be $40.

Sgt. David Luckenbaugh with Frederick County Animal COntrol, said some jurisdictions do have a one-time license fee.

The County Council took no action Tuesday on these recommendations.

By Kevin McManus