Jill Kolodner | July 7, 2020 | Maryland Law
Maryland is one of the many states in the country that prohibits the ownership of certain wild or exotic animals. While the law does not apply to zoos and other approved institutions, individuals cannot own the animals as pets.
What Exotic Animals are Banned in Maryland?
Maryland criminal code §621(b)(1) states that individuals may not import, sell, trade, breed, exchange, barter, or possess the following animals:
- Members of the cat family other than a domesticated cat
- Certain hybrids of the cat family
- Members of the dog family other than domesticated dogs
- Hybrids of a domesticated dog and other members of the dog family
- Nonhuman primates, including monkeys, gorillas, lemurs, orangutans, loris, chimpanzees, and marmosets
- Certain families of poisonous snakes
Sloths do not appear on the list of prohibited exotic animals in Maryland. However, you should check with your local government before purchasing a sloth.
Maryland allows local governments to enact laws regarding wild and exotic animals. Many local governments have enacted strict laws related to exotic animals as pets.
What is a Sloth?
Sloths are mammals about the size of a small dog. They are not members of the marsupial or primate family, even though there are some similarities.
A sloth sleeps about 15 hours a day hanging upside down in a tree. Sloths do not like being handled and are not social animals.
They are native to Central America and northern South America. They spend almost their entire lives hanging in the trees. Sloths rarely come down from the trees. They sleep, eat, mate, and give birth hanging upside down.
A sloth’s diet consists mainly of fruit, leaves, and green shoots. Occasionally, they may eat a bird egg or larval insect.
Do Sloths Make Good Pets?
In general, wild animals do not make good pets for several reasons. Even an animal that has been raised in captivity since birth is still a wild animal. Wild instincts still remain.
Even though a sloth moves extremely slowly, they can attack when provoked or scared. Sloths have long claws and sharp teeth. They can cause severe injuries if they bite or claw a person.
Sloths require a specific diet and special care. It can be challenging to locate a veterinarian in your area that has the knowledge or is willing to care for a sloth.
Pet Owners and Liability for Damages
Owning a pet can make you liable for damages if that pet injures another person. Dog owners in Maryland might be responsible for a person’s injuries, damages, and losses if their dogs bite or attack a person.
A dog owner could be responsible for a victim’s:
- past and future medical bills
- past and future lost wages and benefits
- cost of physical therapy and emotional counseling
- reconstructive and plastic surgery
- scarring and disfigurement
- physical pain and suffering
- emotional distress
- permanent impairments and disabilities
The dog owner may not be the only party liable for damages. Insurance companies, landlords, and other parties may also be liable for a dog bite claim. However, recovering compensation for a dog bite injury may require a legal battle.
Note that while Maryland’s dog bite laws apply to dogs – not sloths – you can face similar consequences if you happen to have a pet sloth who attacks another person. Since the sloth is your property, you assume responsibility for its actions. If it claws, scratches, bites, or otherwise assaults an adult or child, you could be on the hook for the resulting consequences and financial damages.
What Should I Do If an Animal Bites Me?
If an animal injures you or your child, report the attack to the owner and the local authorities. Seek medical attention as soon as possible for your injuries. Animal attacks and dog bites can cause severe injuries and permanent impairments, including, but not limited to:
- traumatic brain injuries
- broken bones and fractures
- puncture wounds and lacerations
- nerve damage
- facial injuries
- scarring and disfigurement
- emotional trauma and PTSD
Medical treatment is necessary to prevent complications and infections. A physician can direct you on how to care for a wound. In some cases, a person may require surgery to repair the damage.
Document your injuries by taking photographs of your injuries. Keep detailed notes about your medical care and your financial losses associated with the attack. Also, keep notes about how the injury impacts your daily life, such as pain levels, missed work, anxiety attacks, flashbacks, and activities you cannot perform.
Filing an insurance claim can provide compensation for your injuries. However, an insurance company may not offer a fair settlement. You may need to talk to a personal injury lawyer to ensure that you are best situated to get the money you deserve.