Animal Laws, Licenses & Services

Washington County Laws

  • Animals at Large
 No owner of any animal shall allow his animal to be at large in the county. Any animal found at large shall be impounded by the Animal Control Agency and/or any Animal Control Officer and taken to the county animal shelter.
  • Removal of Excrement 
The owner of every animal shall be responsible for the removal of excreta deposited by his animal on public byways, recreational areas or private property.
  • Licensing
 No person shall own or harbor any dog over the age of four (4) months unless such dog is licensed. A valid certificate of rabies inoculation issued by a licensed veterinarian or anti-rabies clinic shall accompany the application for a license. A metal dog license tag shall be attached to each dog’s collar and worn by the dog at all times. The licensing requirement does not apply to any dog belonging to a nonresident of the county and kept within the boundaries of the county for not longer than thirty (30) days.
  • Dogs in Heat
 The owner, agent or custodian of any female dog in heat must guard and protect the dog so that she will not be out of doors except on the owner’s property for the purpose of regular exercise, under direct control of such person.
  • Excessive Noise by Animals 
No person shall keep any animal that, by causing frequent or long continued noise, shall disturb the comfort or repose of any person in the vicinity. If the nuisance is not abated, the person can then notify the animal control authorities.
  • Rabies Control
 All dogs and cats at the age of four (4) months in Washington County, Maryland shall be currently immunized against the rabies virus by a licensed veterinarian. The animal control agency shall continue or provide for the confinement of any domestic animal that has bitten any person for observation for a period of no less than ten (10) consecutive calendar days. Confinement may occur on the premises of the animal owner. Any owner, keeper, or harborer of an animal known to have bitten, shall immediately report such bite to any law enforcement agency in Washington County, Maryland.
  • Sale or Distribution of Puppies and Kittens 
A person may not sell or distribute, except when given to any government operated or supported animal shelter or any society or association duly incorporated for the prevention of cruelty to animals, any domestic dog or cat less than eight weeks old.
  • Washington County Animal Control Ordinance 

For a copy of Animal Control Ordinance (Revision 5 – effective January 1, 2013) please click here. To learn more about Washington County Government, please click here.

Maryland State Laws

  • Abandonment
 It is unlawful to abandon any dog, cat, or other domesticated animal.
  • Cruelty to animals is now a FELONY punishable by a fine not to exceed $5,000 or by imprisonment not to exceed three (3) years or both. Failure to provide nutritious food in sufficient quantity, necessary veterinary care, proper drink, air, space, shelter or protection from the weather also constitutes cruelty to animals.

After Hours Calls for the HSWC Field Services Department

A Field Service Officer will respond to an after hours call for the following situations:

  1. Sick or injured domestic animals
  2. sick or injured wild animals that have come in contact with domestic animals or people
  3. Public safety threats such as a stray dog that has bitten and is still loose in the area
  4. A dog that is chasing people or fighting with other dogs
  5. Animals that are trapped in unsafe conditions
  6. Animals confined in vehicles
  7. Animals without shelter in extreme weather
  8. Animals that are being cruelly beaten
  9. Animals without water in extreme conditions
  10. Loose livestock on the highway posing a traffic hazard (Law Enforcement shall be notified)
  11. Assit Law enforcement (strays are not included)

A Field Service Officer will not respond to an after hours call for the following situations:

  1. Barking
  2. Loose, but not aggressive dog
  3. A dog that acted aggressively, bit or was otherwise aggressive and is currently contained by the owner
  4. Bites to a human-Hagerstown PD, Washington County Sherrif’s department, or the Maryland State Police are responsible for taking the initial bite reports.  If the dog is now back in the owner’s or caretaker’s possession the FSO will not respond unless requested by law enforcement.
  5. Welfare checks involving thin animals, unless it is life threatening
  6. Animals without shelter if the weather is pleasant

Washington County Dog & Kennel License Info

Your Dog’s Ticket Home

Pets, especially dogs without identification, are often mistaken for an unwanted animal. If found by a private citizen, many pets are not reported to the local animal shelter. If found by an Animal Control Officer, they must be transported to the animal shelter until the owner locates him/her, resulting in the accumulation of such fees as boarding cost, impoundment, medication, vaccinations, etc. In FY 2011, 50% of the dogs received by HSWC were stray and only 50% of those were reunited with their owner.

As of January 1, 2011, the Humane Society of Washington County became responsible for the Washington County dog and kennel license system. There were other important changes that became effective at the same time to better serve to animals and citizens of Washington County. No longer will licenses become due each July 1st, but instead will run concurrent with your pet’s rabies vaccination. Pet owners can now choose from a one, two, three year or lifetime license. We are offering more outlets in the community and also selling licenses at our annual low cost rabies clinics. Community outlets have the option to charge up to a $3.00 surcharge per license for their administrative efforts, while HSWC can only charge the base fee.

While the State of Maryland requires that all dogs, cats and ferrets that are four (4) months of age and older are currently vaccinated against rabies, Washington County also requires that all dogs four (4) months of age and older wear a current county identification tag. Also, all properties housing, boarding, breeding or caring for six (6) or more dogs over the age of four (4) months are required to obtain a kennel license.

The advantages of having a Washington County dog license include:

  • indicating that animal is owned and loved.
  • showing that his/her rabies vaccination is current.
  • If lost and found by a citizen, a phone call to HSWC can provide the owners information.
  • If lost and found by HSWC Field Officers, they may be able to return the dog directly to you at home.
  • Guaranteed up to $250 of emergency veterinary care until HSWC can contact you. You will be responsible for the cost at time of reclaim.
  • All license and kennel fees are directly deposited in the Spay Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP) account. This is a Washington County voucher program designed to help any citizen of Washington County with the altering of their dog or cat. Apply at HSWC to see if funds are available.

To apply for a kennel license, visit the Washington County Division of Plan Review and Permitting and request a letter for a kennel license. The letter must state whether you are zoned to have six (6) or more dogs.

Please note:

  • If you live within Hagerstown City limits, you are not allowed more than five (5) dogs, so these instructions will not apply.
  • Make sure all dogs have current rabies vaccinations. If there are any cats or ferrets on the property, they will also need proof of rabies vaccinations.
  • Call the Humane Society to arrange for a kennel inspection.
  • After the Humane Society inspects the kennel property, they will either pass or fail the inspection. If the inspection fails, the owner will be given instructions on how to come into compliance in order to get a kennel license and a timeframe to complete the improvements.
  • Once the kennel inspection is complete and passes inspection, a $100 fee will be due, payable to the Field Services Officer, and the license will be issued.
  • The Humane Society Field Services Supervisor will then send you a letter stating that you passed the inspection.
  • The kennel license will expire every June 30th and must be renewed yearly if you continue to maintain six (6) or more dogs.
  • You do not need a letter from Washington County Division of Plan Review and Permitting every year, unless you obtain more dogs than was listed on the previous letter.

Cost of Licenses

(Remember, your rabies vaccination must be current the duration of the license.)

  • One (1) year = $5
  • Two (2) year = $9
  • Three (3) year = $13
  • Lifetime = $25 (can only apply for at time of and/or after receiving second three-year rabies vaccination)
  • Kennel License = $100 per year (due every July 1st)
  • Potentially Vicious and Dangerous Dog License = $75 per year plus regular license
  • Vicious and Dangerous Dog License = $150 per year plus regular license

Where to Get Licenses

(these outlets sell only regular dog license and they may charge up to an 
additional $3 per tag. Remember you always need to show proof of current rabies vaccination to obtain a new license)

Animal Health Clinic of Funkstown

26 East Baltimore Street
Funkstown, MD 21734
(301) 733-7579


Boonsboro Veterinary Hospital

6734 Old National Pike
Boonsboro, MD 21713
(301) 432-7120

Canal Town Veterinary Clinic

15 North Artizan Street
Williamsport, MD 21795
(301) 223-4000

Cumberland Valley Veterinary Clinic

17747 Virginia Ave
Hagerstown, MD 21740
(301) 739-3121


Hancock Animal Hospital,                   Daniel Murphy, DVM

212 Maryland Avenue
Hancock, mD 21750
(301) 678-6635

Hancock Town Hall

126 W. High Street                                                                                                                       Hancock, MD 21750                                                                                                                 (301) 678-5622

Longmeadow Animal Hospital

19764 Longmeadow Road
Hagerstown, MD 21742
(301) 733-8400


Mid-Atlantic Veterinary Hospital

1125 Professional Court
Hagerstown, MD 21742
(301) 797-1800

Park Circle Animal Hospital

362 Virginia Ave
Hagerstown, MD 21740
(301) 791-2180

Smithsburg Veterinary Hospital

22949 Jefferson Blvd
Smithsburg, MD 21783
(301) 416-0888

Startzman’s Hardware

775 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, MD 21740
(301) 739-8853

 *Note:  The inclusion on this Website of any link to another web site, or any reference to any product or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not necessarily constitute or imply an endorsement or recommendation by the HSWC.