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Maine Animal Law

2018 Maine Animal Welfare Laws and Regulations

Do you have questions about Maine’s Animal Welfare Laws and Regulations? The Maine Department of Agriculture’s Animal Welfare Program provides an online link to its 2018 Animal Welfare Law Book. For more information on the Animal Welfare Program and to access its Animal Welfare Law Book click here.

New Maine Laws in 2018

An Act To Strengthen the Law Regarding Dangerous Dogs and Nuisance Dogs’ 

Summary:

1. This new law amends the definition of “dangerous dog” to mean a dog or wolf hybrid that causes the death of or inflicts serious bodily injury on an individual or a domesticated animal who is not trespassing on the dog or wolf hybrid owner’s or keeper’s premises at the time of the injury or death; a dog or wolf hybrid that causes a reasonable and prudent person who is not on the dog or wolf hybrid owner’s or keeper’s premises and is acting in a reasonable and nonaggressive manner to fear imminent serious bodily injury by assaulting or threatening to assault that individual or individual’s domesticated animal; or a dog that inflicts bodily injury on an individual or a domesticated animal who is not trespassing on the dog owner’s or keeper’s premises at the time of the injury and has previously been determined by a court of competent jurisdiction to be a nuisance dog.
2. It adds a new designation and definition of “nuisance dog” to mean a dog or wolf hybrid that causes bodily injury, other than serious bodily injury, to an individual or a domesticated animal who is not trespassing on the dog or wolf hybrid owner’s or keeper’s premises at the time of the injury; a dog or wolf hybrid that causes a reasonable and prudent person who is not on the dog or wolf hybrid owner’s or keeper’s premises and is acting in a reasonable and nonaggressive manner to fear bodily injury, other than serious bodily injury, by assaulting or threatening to assault that individual or individual’s domesticated animal; or a dog or wolf hybrid that causes damage to property or crops not owned by the dog or wolf hybrid owner or keeper while the dog or wolf hybrid is not on the owner’s or keeper’s premises.
3. It provides that the fee for a dangerous dog license is $100, the fee for a nuisance dog license is $30 and all licenses that are issued must state whether the dog has been determined by the court to be a dangerous dog or a nuisance dog.
4. It directs the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to develop and implement a dog licensing database within one year of the effective date of this legislation.
5. It prohibits a person from training or encouraging a dog that is not directly involved with a protection dog training program recognized by the Department of Public Safety, Bureau of State Police to be aggressive toward or attack another person or domesticated animal; transferring ownership of a dog determined by a court to be a dangerous dog without the permission of the court, unless the transfer is to an animal control officer or an animal shelter that has a contract with a municipality to euthanize the dog for the municipality or tethering a dog determined by a court of competent jurisdiction to be a dangerous dog or a nuisance dog. A violation is a civil violation for which a fine not to exceed $100 may be adjudged in addition to court costs.
6. It raises the maximum fine that the court may order for a dog determined to be a dangerous dog or nuisance dog to $5,000 and expands the list of penalties that the court may order if the court determines the dog to be a dangerous dog or a nuisance dog.
7. It adds that an owner or keeper of a dog who violates a court order entered pursuant to a dangerous dog or a nuisance dog finding is in civil contempt of court and adds that a violation of a court order of the expanded list of penalties by a dog owner is a Class D crime.
8. It adds that the owner or keeper of a dog determined by a court to be a dangerous dog or a nuisance dog is required to notify the municipality in which the dog resides in writing and within 30 days if ownership of the dog is transferred, the residence of the dog is changed or the dog is deceased.

 

An Order Establishing the Committee To Review Maine Animal Cruelty Investigations
January 29, 2018
2018-003

AN ORDER ESTABLISHING THE COMMITTEE TO REVIEW MAINE ANIMAL CRUELTY INVESTIGATIONS

WHEREAS, the purpose of the Animal Welfare Program in the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is to ensure humane and proper treatment of animals by developing, implementing and administering a comprehensive program that upholds the animal welfare laws of Maine through communication, education and enforcement; and

WHEREAS, the work of enforcing Maine’s animal welfare laws is difficult, requires a high level of cooperation with many local and regional law enforcement and animal protection entities and by its nature entails interest from concerned parties; and

WHEREAS, the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Animal Welfare staff continues to be responsible for numerous, complex animal neglect and abuse cases including high-profile animal seizures throughout Maine; and

WHEREAS, the increasing volume and number of animal abuse investigations strains local, county and state human and financial resources; and

WHEREAS, there is an ongoing need to improve cooperation and strengthen partnerships between the Animal Welfare Program and all levels of law enforcement including District Attorneys; and

WHEREAS, the Maine Animal Welfare Advisory Council, as established by Title 5, section 12004-1, subsection 2-C currently exists to advise the Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry regarding the implementation and enforcement of Maine’s animal welfare laws, but not pertaining to administration of the Program;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Paul R. LePage, Governor of the State of Maine, do hereby establish the Committee to Review Maine Animal Cruelty Investigations (“the Committee”) for the purposes of: (1) reviewing the laws, rules, regulations and procedures followed by the Maine Animal Welfare Program, (2) looking for any systemic issues that can or should be addressed in the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s administration of animal protection programs, (3) ascertaining the effectiveness of existing resources and (4) developing recommendations on how the DACF administration of the Maine Animal Welfare Program can be strengthened and improved.

THE COMMITTEE
Membership of the Committee and its chair, shall be selected by the Governor and consist of nine (9) members. The Committee’s composition shall include:
Two (2) representatives from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, to include staff support for the committee
One (1) Assistant District Attorney or District Attorney
Two (2) veterinarians with cumulative experience in large animal, small animal, livestock, domestic animal and equines
One (1) local Animal Control Officer
One (1) representative of the Maine State Police
One (1) member involved with animal sheltering
One (1) member of the Animal Welfare Advisory Council

DUTIES OF THE COMMITTEE
The Committee shall:
Establish goals and timeframes for the Committee’s work
Review Animal Welfare Program policies and procedures with respect to investigations and animal seizures
Review the Program to determine how state and community staff resources are allocated and how the allocation impacts the efficiency of program delivery
Consult with public-sector and private-sector experts
Evaluate the level of cooperation of all responsible parties with the Animal Welfare Program
Make recommendations to the Governor as appropriate
The Committee shall deliver a report to the Governor summarizing its fact-finding review by August 31, 2018. The effective date of this Executive Order is January 29, 2018.

Paul R. LePage
Governor