Havre De Grace, MD asked in Animal / Dog Law, Criminal Law and Federal Crimes for Maryland

Q: If i live with someone who owns dogs separately, & arent related can i be charged with neglect if they arent mine?

If i live with someone but have no affiliation with them other than being a general tenant in the home of which i pay rent, and the co owner also lives there too, am i responsible for their animals also, in a legal aspect?

What about the other partial co-owner of the home, would they be responsible for caring for the animals also? Or is it solely the pet owners obligation? There have been multiple neglect reports filed.

2 Lawyer Answers
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: Depends on the scenario. If you are one of the co-owners/landlords of the property, and the tenant owns the dogs, and they are renting a room in the property and have access to other common areas like the kitchen, then the owners of the property can likely get charged because they live in and have control over the home where the dogs are being neglected. If, on the other hand, the dog-owning tenant rents an apartment within the home that is wholly closed off from the rest of the house and has a separate locked entrance, and the owners do not have general right of access to that apartment, then only the dog-owning tenant is likely chargeable. Any other tenant, who has no control over either the co-owners of the dog-owning tenant, and otherwise is not responsible for the dogs, should not be charged.

Eric Todd Kirk
Eric Todd Kirk
Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: This really is not a criminal question so much as a civil liability inquiry. The owner of an animal is liable for acts of negligence, and potentially strictly liable as well. Others having care or custody of an animal could potentially be liable, depending on the circumstances, and relationship. It would not seem that being a 'mere renter' would qualify.

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