Code of the District of Columbia

§ 8–1801. Definitions.

For the purposes of this subchapter, the term:

(1) "Abandon" means to desert, forsake, or give up an animal without having secured another owner or custodian for the animal or having transferred the animal to the Animal Care and Control Agency.

(2) "Adequate care" means the responsible practice of animal husbandry, handling, confinement, protection, transportation, treatment, and, when necessary, euthanasia, appropriate for the age, species, condition, size, and type of the animal, and the provision of veterinary care when needed to prevent suffering, impairment of health, or the treatment of illness or injury.

(3) "Adequate feed" means the provision of and access to food that is sufficient in quantity, prepared and provided in a manner so that the animal can consume it, and provided in a manner sanitary for the animal.

(4)(A) "Adequate shelter" means the provision of and access to shelter that is safe and protects each animal from injury, rain, sleet, snow, hail, the adverse effects of heat or cold, and physical suffering, and that is of a size sufficient for the animal to stand up and turn around.

(B) For a dog confined outside, the term "adequate shelter" shall additionally mean that:

(i) When the temperature is at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the dog has access to a shelter that has an entrance covered by a flexible wind-proofing material or self-closing door, that contains a platform for the dog at least 4 inches off the ground, and that contains dry bedding, which shall consist of an insulating material that does not retain moisture, such as straw, and is of a sufficient depth for the dog to burrow; and

(ii) When the temperature is at or above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the dog has access to a shelter shaded by trees, a roof, a tarp, or a tarp-like device.

(5)(A) "Adequate space" means sufficient space to allow each animal to easily stand, sit, lie, turn, and make all other normal body movements in a comfortable, normal position for the animal, while allowing the animal to interact safely with other animals.

(B) Where freedom of movement would endanger or harm the animal, temporarily and appropriately restricting movement of the animal according to veterinary standards for the species is considered the provision of adequate space.

(6) "Adequate water" means the provision of and access to clean, fresh, potable water, provided in a suitable manner for proper hydration for the age, species, condition, size, and type of each animal.

(7) "Animal Care and Control Agency" means the District of Columbia humane organization the Mayor contracts with to manage animal care and control.

(8) "Animal shelter" means a privately- or government-owned facility established for the impoundment of stray, diseased, dangerous, sick, injured, abused, neglected, unwanted, abandoned, orphaned, lost, or otherwise displaced animals, with the intent to care for, quarantine, return to an owner, place for adoption, or euthanize the animals.

(9)(A) "At large" means any animal found off the premises of its owner or custodian and not leashed, tethered, or otherwise under adequate means of control of a person capable of physically restraining it.

(B) The term "at large" shall not include a dog in a dog park pursuant to § 8-1810.02.

(C) The term "at large" shall not include cats.

(10) "Custodian" means a person who has assumed responsibility for the care and well-being of an animal in place of the animal's owner with the owner's knowledge and permission.

(11) "Dangerous animal" means an animal that because of specific training or demonstrated behavior threatens the health or safety of the public. The term "dangerous animal" shall not include a dangerous dog as defined in § 8-1901(1).

(12) "Dog park" means an off-leash dog exercise area officially established pursuant to § 8-1810.02.

(13) "Extreme weather" means temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

(14) "Leash" means a line held by a person on one end that is for leading or restraining an animal.

(15) "Mayor" means the Mayor of the District of Columbia or his or her designee.

(16) "Owner" means a person in the District of Columbia who purchases or keeps an animal in temporary or permanent custody, except as provided in § 8-1804.

(17) "Tether" means a line connected to a stationary object by which an animal is fastened so as to restrict its range of movement.

(18) "Vaccinated" means protected by a documented inoculation that the Mayor, consistent with the practices of veterinary medicine, determines is currently effective.


(Oct. 18, 1979, D.C. Law 3-30, § 2, 26 DCR 765; Oct. 18, 1988, D.C. Law 7-176, § 9(a), 35 DCR 4787; Dec. 10, 2005, D.C. Law 16-40, § 2(a), 52 DCR 9087; Dec. 5, 2008, D.C. Law 17-281, § 104(a), 55 DCR 9186; Dec. 20, 2017, D.C. Law 22-37, § 2(a), 64 DCR 11682.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 6-1001.

1973 Ed., § 6-2401.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 16-40, designated existing text of par. (1) as subpar. (1)(A); added subpar. (1)(B); and added pars. (3A) and (3B).

D.C. Law 17-281, in par. (2), substituted “Animal Care and Control Agency” for “Animal Control Agency”.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(a) of Standard of Care for Animals Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2017 (D.C. Act 22-165, Oct. 23, 2017, 64 DCR 10792).

For temporary (90 days) creation of § 8-1801.01 and § 8-1801.02, see § 2(b) of Standard of Care for Animals Emergency Amendment Act of 2017 (D.C. Act 22-137, July 31, 2017, 64 DCR 7787).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2(a) of Standard of Care for Animals Emergency Amendment Act of 2017 (D.C. Act 22-137, July 31, 2017, 64 DCR 7787).

Editor's Notes

Mayor authorized to issue rules: Section 2(f) of D.C. Law 9-236 provided that the Mayor may issue rules to implement the provisions of the act pursuant to subchapter I of Chapter 5 of Title 2.

Delegation of Authority

Delegation of authority under D.C. Law 3-30, the “Animal Control Act of 1979”, see Mayor’s Order 2000-97, June 14, 2000 ( 47 DCR 5275).

Delegation of Authority pursuant to D.C. Law 3-30, the Animal Control Act of 1979, see Mayor’s Order 2009-38, March 23, 2009 ( 56 DCR 6774).