Oscar's law passed unanimously in Baltimore Co. council

Law aims to keep animals safer when outside
Posted at 11:18 PM, Apr 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-16 23:18:43-04

Leaving animals out in the extreme cold or heat in Baltimore County is now against the law.  Council members passed the law Monday in honor of a dog that froze to death last winter.

The council voted unanimously in favor of Oscar's Law.  A picture of him left in the cold last winter went viral starting the fight for this legislation.

"We witnessed something that I think shocked us all which was a dog who froze to death in his yard," said Julianne Zimmer, one of the bill's sponsors.

That’s when Zimmer, president of Relove Animals along with several others including Baltimore county lawmakers stepped in. 

"We figured we need to look into the codes to see what type of laws can protect this from happening," said Zimmer.

Oscar’s owner was criminally charged and a necropsy showed he died of hypothermia. Bill sponsors say animal control was called to this neighborhood several times on Oscar's behalf.

"Oscar was in an extremely bad situation and we know there's a lot of Oscars in Baltimore County," said bill co-sponsor, Joy Freedman.

The new bill hopes to take out the gray area when it comes to keeping animals safe outside.

"This puts a clear indication on temperature wise, what’s too cold, what’s too hot," said Zimmer.

Specifically, outlining adverse conditions for pets like temperatures below 32 or above 90 degrees or weather conditions like wind, rain, snow, ice, direct sunlight or hot pavement.

"I’m very happy that my colleagues acted in a collaborative, non-partisan way to improve animal welfare,  i’m very proud of this bill," said Councilman David Marks, who also sponsored the bill.

Although the vote was unanimous, Council Chairman Julian Jones, said, there's more pressing work to be done.

"In respect for my colleagues who  felt so strongly about it I decided to vote for it.  At some level I really don't think that this is where we need to be as a council there's plenty of things that affect my community."

Oscar's Law allows police and animal control to work together.  Lawmakers told WMAR-2 News,  officers will have the discretion to decide what constitutes animal abuse.