Maine Dog Laws 2023: Rabies, Dog Bites, Dog Cruelty, and Dog Chains

2023-02-22 05:10:58 By : Ms. Lacy Shi

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What are the dog laws in Maine? Does Maine have dog laws? If you live in this state, you might be wondering what the law says about issues like rabies vaccination , dog bites , dog cruelty, and dog chains.  Gifts & Crafts

Maine Dog Laws 2023: Rabies, Dog Bites, Dog Cruelty, and Dog Chains

Read on for more information about dog laws in Maine.

All dogs over three months of age residing in Maine must receive a rabies vaccination. This vaccine must be performed by or supervised by a licensed veterinarian. Additionally, dog owners are required to affix the dog’s current rabies tag to the dog’s collar. After their first vaccination, dogs must be vaccinated either annually or triannually depending on the vaccination they receive. These rules also apply to wolf hybrid dogs. 

Maine does offer exemptions from the rabies vaccine for medical reasons. Medical exemptions must be accompanied by a written statement from a veterinarian confirming the dog’s poor health. However, the state of Maine does ask that as soon as the animal recovers, they are placed back on a regular vaccination schedule. 

If an unvaccinated dog bites a person, they will be considered as a potential rabies carrier. It is legal for them to subsequently be euthanized with no hold in order to test for rabies. While this is a sad outcome, it is avoidable by staying up to date on your pet’s vaccines. 

Maine is what is considered a “strict liability” state regarding dog bites. What this means is essentially that, in almost all circumstances, dog owners are liable for their dogs if they bite someone. In “one bite” states, dogs are often given a single chance to bite under the assumption that, with the new knowledge their dog may behave dangerously, the owner will put more effort into managing the dog. Maine does not have this leniency, and even a dog with no prior history of aggressive behavior will be liable for their first bite incident. Maine’s Title 7, 3961 states that “ w hen an animal damages a person or that person’s property due to negligence of the animal’s owner or keeper, the owner or keeper of that animal is liable in a civil action to the person injured for the amount of damage done if the damage was not occasioned through the fault of the person injured.”

There are cases where dogs will not be considered aggressors in attacks, even if previously proven to be dangerous. Dog owners are not responsible for attacks in which the dog was provoked or protecting the owner. This could include yelling at, hitting, or throwing objects at the dog. Additionally, if you were trespassing on private property and then were attacked by an otherwise contained dog, the dog’s owner would not be liable. 

Additionally, in some cases, there may be a “common sense” prohibition on finding a dog owner liable. For example, most people know to leave an eating dog or a mother with puppies alone. Bothering an animal when you could predict aggressive behavior will not always result in liability for the owner. 

A dangerous dog, particularly a repeat offender, may be euthanized if this is determined to be in the best interest of the safety of the community. After one documented bite, a dog is considered vicious in the state of Maine. This means that subsequent bites may lead to euthanasia. Additionally, a severe enough attack could lead the court to determine euthanasia is the best course of action even for a first offender. 

According to Maine statute 1038 , animal abandonment is illegal. The law doesn’t clarify what exactly constitutes as animal abandonment, but common sense can tell you it likely encompasses any situation in which an animal owner sets a dog “free,” leaves them nonconsensually under someone else’s care, or leaves them on their own property without food, water, or shelter. Animal abandonment is always dangerous to animals and people that may encounter them. It’s always better to surrender a pet to a shelter or rescue if you cannot keep them. 

Maine law states that anyone found guilty of animal abandonment is guilty of a Class D crime. This is punishable by up to 364 days incarceration and a $2,000 fine .

Maine law determines that when an owner abandons an animal, they relinquish all rights to them. However, the old owner is still responsible for costs of care in cases such as abandonment at a boarding kennel. 

Maine has a wide range of defined actions that are viewed as animal cruelty. Of course, it is illegal to hit, kick, beat, or otherwise inflict physical pain or suffering on a dog unless in the case of self defense or an otherwise justifiable action. It’s also considered animal cruelty to deprive a dog of things that one could reasonably assume they need — food, water, shelter, exercise, or vet care. 

Animal cruelty in Maine is a “Class D” crime, punishable by up to 364 days incarceration and a $2,000 fine. Additionally, the punishment for aggravated animal cruelty is harsher. Aggravated animal cruelty, which is cruelty resulting in severe injury or death to the animal, is a “Class C” crime. Class C crimes are punishable by up to 5 years incarceration and/or a $5000 fine. 

As in the other 49 states, dogfighting is a felony in Maine. This doesn’t apply only to those directly fighting their animals. Charges can also occur for those betting on or attending dogfights in Maine. It’s also illegal to train dogs for the intent of fighting, even if you aren’t directly participating in dogfights. 

Tethering or chaining a dog is legal in Maine. However, Maine has regulations in place intended to protect tethered dogs from harm. Breaking Maine’s tethering laws is illegal, and could result in an animal cruelty charge in severe cases. Maine law states that “no person owning or responsible for confining or impounding any animal may fail to provide the animal with proper shelter, protection from the weather and humanely clean conditions.”

Of course, this applies to untethered dogs, too. But the law does get more specific in regards to do’s and don’ts of tethering. “When sunlight is likely to cause heat exhaustion of an animal tied or caged outside, sufficient shade by natural or artificial means must be provided to protect the animal from direct sunlight. An artificial shelter, with a minimum of 3 sides and a waterproof roof, appropriate to the local climatic conditions and for the species and breed of the animal, must be provided as necessary for the health of the animal. If a dog is tied or confined unattended outdoors under weather conditions that adversely affect the health of the dog, a shelter must be provided in accordance with subsection 6, paragraph A, to accommodate the dog and protect it from the weather and, in particular, from severe cold. Inadequate shelter may be indicated by the shivering of the dog due to cold weather for a continuous period of 10 minutes or by symptoms of frostbite or hypothermia. A metal barrel is not adequate shelter for a dog.”

While Maine’s tethering laws are  quite long  — but necessary to review before tethering! — the statutes in place are pretty reasonable, and they’re in the best interest of the dog.

Good news for Maine residents — the Animal Legal Defense Fund ranks Maine number 1 out of all 50 US States for animal protection laws. This makes Maine not only a “top-tier” state by their standards, but the best-ranked US state! Why does Maine rank so high? Maine provides thorough definitions for standards of care that guardians must provide for their animals, which helps prevent accidental offenses. Maine also has a Courtroom Animal Advocate Program, and mandatory post-conviction possession bans for certain crimes, and temporary pre-conviction possession ban for all animal cruelty offenders.

Maine Dog Laws 2023: Rabies, Dog Bites, Dog Cruelty, and Dog Chains

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