Kitty Post: It's The Law By Sallie Rhodes
Updated: Sep 26
It’s the Law!
Recent crimes committed in Beltsville include two kittens being poisoned near Beltsville Academy, a man routinely releasing his dog to hunt and kill feral cats at Ammendale Office Park, and property managers in two residential developments threatening to evict residents if they continue feeding feral cats. In response, Beltsville Community Cats (BCC) offers the following information to educate residents and business on the federal, state and county laws protecting feral cats and the people who help them.
Cruelty to animals is a federal crime in all 50 states and DC. 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 legislation citing the link between animal cruelty and violence against people.
In Maryland, since 2013, anti‑cruelty laws protect every cat regardless of whether the cat is identified as a pet, stray, unowned, or feral. Amendments to these laws specifically state that the provisions legally protecting animals from cruelty apply to feral cats stating, “no animal shall be […] deprived of necessary sustenance, tortured, tormented, mutilated, cruelly beaten, or otherwise physically, psychologically, emotionally, sexually, or cruelly killed […] no person may willfully poison any animal, with the exception of using poison in a careful and humane manner to destroy vermin such as rats, mice, and insect pests.”
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. As stated on the county website, free-roaming cats are not to be impounded as a public nuisance animal solely for being at large or unlicensed. Any person who accidentally or otherwise strikes an animal with an automobile must notify the police or Animal Control Facility of the accident.
If you have witnessed cruelty to feral cats, or any animal within Prince George’s County, please call the animal control report line at (301) 780–7241.