Animal control officers are being given more power and pit bulls remain banned under new bill changes passed in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
Residents voiced both concerns and support for changes to the county’s animal control bill. The changes are aimed at strengthening enforcement laws, outlining how animals should be treated and banning others.
Animal Control officers will now be given more authority when it comes to investigating complaints of neglect and cruelty.
Valerie Fenton, a county resident and local shelter worker, spoke out in support of the move.
“I have seen how tied their hands have been as dogs wasted away in a yard,” she said. “I have heard their frustrations as they had to buy their own uniforms, their own supplies, their own gas due to a lack of funds.”
Another of the changes allows any animal caught without proper identification to be impounded. Previously, that only applied to dogs. Animals caught without a microchip will also be subjected to mandatory microchipping once claimed. Mandatory spaying or neutering may also be waived if an owner is able to provide proof of financial loss or that doing so would alter the value of an animal.
Pit bulls are still banned under the bill.
Lutricia Lewis-Quarles spoke out in support after her dog was attacked, telling the council that “three pit bulls jumped over the fence and devoured her. I have never seen anything like this in my entire life.”
However, Fenton spoke out against the pit bull ban, saying it has led to an increase in pit bulls in her local shelter and stopped people from moving to the county.
“Open your eyes to the economic impact of this ban,” Fenton said.
The updated bill received unanimous support with an 11-0 vote from the county council.
The changes come a week after a woman was mauled by two of her pitbulls last week in Fort Washington, Maryland. Responding police officers shot and killed one of the dogs.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story misstated Lutricia Lewis-Quarles’ name. This story has been updated to correct that.