UPDATE: Ridgely, Maryland

Back in October, we were alerted via a newspaper article that officials in Ridgely, MD were considering a bill requiring “certain breeds of dogs deemed inherently dangerous” be registered with the town’s police department. I have finally confirmed with the town clerk that no new animal control ordinance is or was being considered to replace the current ordinance that’s been in place since 2002. The clerk also advised that the newspaper article published in October regarding the Chief of Police and the dangerous dog ordinance was incorrect, and a correction was placed in the Star Democrat newspaper.

Unfortunately, a review of the existing 2002 ordinance reveals that Ridgely already has a breed specific ordinance with respect to pit bulls. The relevant portion of the ordinance is below.

§ 64-14. Fierce animals; violations and penalties. [Amended by Ord. No. 234, effective 9-9-2002]

A. Purpose and intent. The purpose of this section is to promote the public health, safety, and general welfare of the citizens of the Town of Ridgely. It is intended to be applicable to “dangerous” dogs, as defined herein, and to regulate dogs that are commonly referred to as “pit bulls,” as defined herein, by ensuring responsible handling by their owners through registration, confinement, and liability insurance. The Town of Ridgely Police Department (Town Police Department) is designated as the lead agency charged with the administration and enforcement of this section.

B. Definitions. As used in this section, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:

BOARD OF ANIMAL CONTROL
Consists of the Chief of Police, the Chairman of the Board of Zoning Appeals, and one member of the public who has demonstrated an interest in the matter of animal control.
DANGEROUS DOG
A “pit bull dog,” as defined in this subsection, or any dog that, because of its aggressive nature, training, or characteristic behavior, presents a risk of serious physical harm or death to human beings, or would constitute a danger to human life, physical well-being, or property if not kept under the direct control of the owner. This definition shall not apply to dogs utilized by law enforcement officers in the performance of their duties. The term “dangerous dog” includes any dog that according to the records of Caroline County Animal Control or any law enforcement agency:
(1) Has aggressively bitten, attacked, endangered, or inflicted serious injury on a human being on public or private property;

(2) Has severely injured or killed a domestic animal while off the owner’s property; or

(3) Has been used primarily or in part for the purpose of dog fighting, or is a dog trained for dog fighting.

DIRECTOR
The executive officer of the Board of Animal Control. Until a Director has been appointed by the Mayor, the Chief of Police shall act as Director.
[Amended 2-3-2003 by Ord. No. 239]

MUZZLE
A device constructed of strong, soft material or of metal, designed to fasten over the mouth of an animal to prevent the animal from biting any person or other animal.
PIT BULL DOG
Includes any of the following dogs:
(1) The Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed of dogs.

(2) The American Staffordshire Terrier breed of dogs.

(3) The American Pit Bull Terrier breed of dogs.

(4) Dogs that have the appearance and characteristics of being predominantly of the breeds of dogs known as “Staffordshire Bull Terrier,” “American Pit Bull Terrier,” or “American Staffordshire Terrier.”

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