This chapter of Maryland laws declares that it is in the public interest to ensure public health and safety by strictly regulating the possession, breeding, and importation of certain animals that pose risks to humans. Certain animals such as domestic dogs, cats, and ferrets; animal used for agricultural, scientific, or education purposes; and animals used for public exhibitions are excluded from the provisions of this section. Any person who imports, transports, sells, transfers, breeds, raises, keeps, or possesses any animal which is prohibited under regulations promulgated by the Secretary is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to a fine not exceeding $500, or imprisonment not exceeding 1 year, or both.
§ 18-217 . Legislative findings
§ 18-218 . Animal defined
§ 18-219 . Dangerous animals
§ 18-220 . Stricter possession requirements by municipalities
§ 18-221 . Coordination with other departments
§ 18-222 . Prohibited animals subject to seizure
The General Assembly finds and declares that it is in the public interest to ensure the public health, safety, and welfare by strictly regulating in this State the importation, transportation, sale, transfer, breeding, raising, keeping, and possession of certain animals which pose a possibility of the introduction of a disease or pest harmful to humans, or endangers the physical safety of human beings.
In this part, “animal” means any nonhuman living creature, whether native to Maryland or not, which is:
(1) Wild by nature; and
(2) Endowed with sensation and power of voluntary motion.
Added by Acts 1986, c. 805, § 1, eff. July 1, 1986. Amended by Acts 1988, c. 6, § 1, eff. July 1, 1988; Acts 2016, c. 8, § 1, eff. March 14, 2016.
(a) The Secretary may prohibit the importation, selling, trading, purchasing, bartering, breeding, raising, keeping, or possession of any animals found to be dangerous to human health and safety.
Application of section
(b) This section does not apply to:
(1) Domestic cats;
(2) Domestic dogs;
(3) Domestic ferrets;
(4) Animals used for agricultural purposes;
(5) Animals used for scientific purposes;
(6) Animals used for educational purposes;
(7) Animals used for public exhibitions; or
(8) Any animal that the Secretary determines is not a threat to human health and safety.
Construction of section
(c) This section may not be construed to prohibit the breeding, raising, keeping, or possession of turtles by a person who has obtained a permit under Title 10, Subtitle 9 of the Natural Resources Article.
Added by Acts 1986, c. 805, § 1, eff. July 1, 1986. Amended by Acts 1996, c. 684, § 1, eff. Oct. 1, 1996; Acts 2002, c. 261, § 1, eff. Oct. 1, 2002.
Nothing in this part prevents or prohibits any county, municipal corporation, or Baltimore City from imposing stricter possession requirements or banning possession of certain animals.
Added by Acts 1986, c. 805, § 1, eff. July 1, 1986. Amended by Acts 2016, c. 8, § 1, eff. March 14, 2016.
When prohibiting animals that may also be harmful to indigenous wildlife or agricultural animals under § 18-219 of this subtitle, the Secretary shall coordinate with the Departments of Natural Resources and Agriculture.
Fines and penalties
(a) Any person who imports, transports, sells, transfers, breeds, raises, keeps, or possesses any animal which is prohibited under § 18-219 of this subtitle is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to a fine not exceeding $500, or imprisonment not exceeding 1 year, or both.
Animal subject to seizure
(b) Any animal, whose possession or keeping is prohibited under § 18-219 of this subtitle shall be considered a nuisance and a contraband, and is subject to seizure by any authorized law-enforcement officer.