Minimum Standards of Care for Animals

Domestic animals are completely dependent on their human caretakers for food, shelter, medical care, and their overall health and happiness. If they are being abused or neglected, they can’t speak up, and they don’t have recourse to improve their quality of life. We understand that as the proprietor of an animal-based enterprise, you face the same challenges as any small business, and then some. Whether you’re a farmer, veterinarian, dog walker, trainer, groomer, or pet boarder, you have to juggle the needs of customers, employees, and the animals in your care — all while watching your bottom line. The well-being of your charges is paramount. In Maryland criminal code 10-604, the state defines the minimum standard of care that every animal is entitled to receive. Attorney Rebekah Lusk not only knows animal and equine law inside and out, she runs a horse farm and boarding facility herself, giving her valuable insight into the particular issues faced by animal-business owners. If you have questions about Section10-604 or any aspect of animal law, call Lusk Law, LLC to schedule a consultation.

MD Criminal Code 10-604 Explained

Maryland does not require you to keep your pets and animal clients in the lap of luxury. But you must meet their basic needs for comfort and good health. The code states:

A person may not:

  • Overdrive or overload an animal;
  • Deprive an animal of necessary sustenance;
  • Inflict unnecessary suffering or pain on an animal;
  • Cause, procure, or authorize any of the above actions.

Animal owners and caretakers must provide the animal with:

  • Nutritious food in sufficient quantity;
  • Necessary veterinary care;
  • Proper drink;
  • Proper air;
  • Proper space;
  • Proper shelter or protection from the weather.
The Maryland Horse Council has a document that expands upon the provisions of the code specifically as it relates to horses, but it is applicable to other animals as well. If you violate the law, you may be found guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to up to 90 days in prison and/or a fine of up to $1,000. The court may also order you to undergo psychological counseling at your own expense and ban you from owning, possessing, or living with an animal.

Call the Animal-Law Attorneys at Lusk Law, LLC

Being an animal lover is not enough to open and run a successful animal-related business. You need sound legal advice for setting up your company, ensuring compliance with regulations specific to the industry, and defending yourself when disputes do arise. The Maryland animal and equine law team at Lusk Law, LLC offers a specialized approach to animal law — one that combines a deep knowledge of state statutes and personal experience in animal husbandry. As comprehensive business law attorneys, we also provide our clients with knowledgeable guidance on other legal issues they may encounter, such as landlord/tenant matters, litigation, and startup requirements. We understand the complexities and difficulties of working with animals, as well as the passion of the people who choose this path. If you are looking for advice on animal-law issues or need representation in a dispute, call Rebekah Lusk at Lusk Law, LLC. We are Advocates for Life’s Obstacles and Opportunities.