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  • Writer's pictureBeltsville News


Updated: Nov 2, 2021

Cruelty to animals is a federal crime in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In 2019, President Trump signed the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act (PACT). Penalties for violating the law include a fine, a prison term up to seven years, or both. Law enforcement groups across the nation endorsed this new law saying there is a link between animal cruelty and violence against people. And in Maryland, since 2013, anti‑cruelty laws protect every cat regardless of whether the cat is a pet, a stray, an unowned, or a free-roaming community (feral) cat. Amendments to these laws specifically state that the provisions legally protecting animals from cruelty apply to feral cats.

The Maryland stature authorizes competitive grants to be awarded to local governments and animal welfare organizations to promote the responsible practice of trap‑neuter‑return (including vaccination against rabies and other diseases) as an effective method for humanely reducing the population of free‑roaming cats. The goal of these grants is to reduce statewide shelter overpopulation and euthanasia rates. County representatives are charged with conducting an annual review of the effectiveness of the ear-tipped cat program.

The current Prince George’s County Animal Control Ordnance specifically refers to required elements of what is deemed adequate care for pets being extended to feral cats. This includes general care, management, feeding, watering, protection, shelter, transportation, treatment, and the prevention of suffering and impairment of health. Feeding, sheltering and/or otherwise caring for free-roaming cats shall not be deemed a public nuisance condition unless it disturbs the peace, comfort, or health of any person residing within the county. Any person who accidentally or otherwise strikes an animal with an automobile must notify the police or Animal Control Facility of the accident.

It is against the law to willfully or negligently poison a feral cat.

Please call (301)-780-7241 to report violations.

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