Stories from the NFCCA Newsletter, the “Northwood News”

Northwood News ♦ April 2017

Montgomery County Pet Leash and Scooping Laws

By Sam Salisbury-Jones

Spring is officially here, and with the warmer weather comes more outdoor activities.  One of the most popular outdoor activities in our neighborhood is dog walking.  North Four Corners is a very pet-friendly place, with numerous trails and a lovely park for dogs and their owners to enjoy.  As people and pets alike start spending more time outside, now is a good time for a refresher on county pet laws.

Three of the most relevant pet laws for our neighborhood are the county’s leash, pet defecation, and vaccine and license laws.  Montgomery County Code, Sec. 5-201, states that dogs generally must be leashed at all times when not on the owner’s premises.  Otherwise, the dog is considered “at large.”

Other pets, including cats, are considered “at large” if they are off leash or not immediately responsive to their owners.  So, even if a pet owner is walking their trained and responsive dog on the Northwest Branch Trail, for example, the dog must be on a leash.

Pet owners found in violation of this law face a $100 penalty for a first violation.  Penalties jump to $500 for each subsequent violation.

It can be tempting to let our furry friends off leash, especially on less-crowded trails.  However, county law prohibits this due to the potential risks.  As some neighbors recently noted on the listserv, even friendly off-leash dogs can spook other dogs, children, and owners.

If Fido is itching for an off-leash romp, check out the new Ellsworth Urban Park, located at 621 Ellsworth Drive next to the former Silver Spring Library.  The park opened earlier this year, and is adjacent to a playground and tennis courts.

Another important county pet law is the pet defecation, or pooper scooper, law (Montgomery County Code, Sec. 5-203(a)(2)).  Owners must scoop their pet’s poop (yes, cats included!) when the animals is off the owner’s property.  The new North Four Corners Local Park, located at 315 University Boulevard West, has free plastic bags available on large poles around the play areas.  If you walk the Northwest Branch Trail, there are disposal bins provided at the trailheads.  Failing to scoop the poop will earn a pet owner a $100 for each violation.

Finally, Montgomery County Code, Sec. 5-203(a)(9), requires dog and cat owners to license and vaccinate their pets, if the animal is four months old or older.  This law requires a rabies vaccine, and separate county-issued license.  The county offers low-cost rabies and licensing clinics from April-September at the Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center located at 7315 Muncaster Mill Road, Derwood, Md.  Check the Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center’s website for specific dates, times, and parking information.

When neighbors abide by pet laws, everyone — creatures included — can better enjoy the warmer weather and our beautiful community.   ■

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