Month: March 2014

Maryland Pet Legislation Update 3/28/14

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Just 10 more days in the 2014 Maryland legislative session but there is one more major hearing left next week on anti-BSL legislation, with one more call-to-action.  See details below!

And just a reminder about the process for several of these bills which have passed their chamber of origin (i.e. bills introduced in the House have passed the House, and bills introduced in the Senate have passed the Senate).  Even if identical bills have passed the House and the Senate, we still need at least one of them to pass BOTH chambers.  That is the last step before bills can be sent to the Governor – and that’s what will (hopefully!) be happening next week for a bunch of animal bills.  The General Assembly adjourns Monday, April 7th at midnight.

 

As always, thank you to Tami Santelli for providing the updates.


 

 

ACTION ITEMS  

***Priority items for the next week***

 

  • Prohibiting Breed Discrimination – Please call your state senator and ask for his/her support of HB 422, and then use this link to send a follow up email And consider coming to the hearing on TUESDAY at 1pm in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee!  We need to show strong support for this bill, and it only has a week to pass the Senate!

 

 

BILL SUMMARIES AND STATUS:

 

  • Dog Bite Liability (SB 247/HB 73). SB 247 has passed the Senate, HB 73 has passed the House, and HB 73 has passed the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee!  This bill is almost done – HB 73 just needs to pass the Senate, which hopefully will happen early next week.  SB 247 is still waiting for a vote in the House Judiciary Committee.  You can read the amended language here.  Getting so close!

 

  • Roadside Zoos (SB 827/HB 1124).  SB 827 has passed the Senate and HB 1124 has passed the House!  As amended by the committees, this legislation would put in place basic requirements for facilities that keep especially dangerous wild animals (big cats, bears and primates).
  • Costs of Care (SB 149/HB 93).  HB 93 has passed the House, and just passed the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee last night!  This legislation will allow judges to order people convicted of cruelty to pay the costs of caring for the animals during the trial.  It was substantially amended by the House Judiciary Committee so that reimbursement would be capped at $15,000 and would only be available in felony animal cruelty cases – but those amendments were removed by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, so now the differences will have to be reconciled.  You can read the amended version here.  It will receive a vote on the floor of the Senate next week!
  • Surgical Procedures (SB 659/HB 665).  SB 659 has passed the Senate and HB 665 has passed the House!  This legislation bans ear cropping, tail docking, removal of dewclaws and C-sections of dogs unless done by a veterinarian under anesthesia.  The Senate originally adopted an amendment allowing ear cropping, tail docking and the removal of dewclaws by a vet tech under the supervision of a veterinarian, but this change conflicts with existing law that doesn’t permit vet techs to do these procedures.  We worked with the Maryland Department of Agriculture to address this problem this week and the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee just passed HB 665 (without the vet tech language) last night.  Fingers crossed!

 

  • Devocalization (SB 660/HB 667).  SB 660 has passed the Senate and HB 667 has passed the House!  This bill bans debarking or surgically silencing dogs or cats.  The House and Senate originally adopted slightly different versions, but the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee accepted the House version last night.

 

  • School Reporting – Animal Cruelty (HB 222).  HB 222 has passed the House!  This bill adds felony animal cruelty to the list of offenses that must be reported to school officials by law enforcement.  It is awaiting a vote in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

 

  • Tax Credit – Adopted Police Dogs (HB 1357).  Establishes an income tax credit for qualified veterinary expenses incurred by state or local police officers who adopt a police dog. It is awaiting a vote in the House Ways and Means Committee.  This bill has missed the crossover deadline so it is unlikely to move for this year.

 

  • Tax Credit – Dog/Cat Adoptions (HB 1358).  Establishes an income tax credit for people who adopt a dog or cat from an animal shelter.  It is awaiting a vote in the House Ways and Means Committee.  This bill has missed the crossover deadline so it is unlikely to move for this year.

 

Other dog bite related legislation:

  • Prohibiting Breed Discrimination (HB 422):  As amended, this bill would prohibit a dog from being deemed dangerous based solely on breed and would prohibit counties and municipalities from adopting breed specific laws in the future (but would not overturn existing BSL).  Even with these changes, this would represent a statewide anti-BSL policy, and that would be a huge step forward for Maryland!  HB 422 was just scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committeeon TUESDAY, April 1st at 1pm.  Please come if you can, and see the action item above. J

 

  • Dog Bite Reporting – Rabies (HB 1204): Requires the owner of a dog who bites someone to provide the injured person with proof of rabies vaccination. It is awaiting a vote in the House Environmental Matters Committee.  This bill has missed the crossover deadline so it is unlikely to move for this year.

Other animal related legislation:

 

  • Animal Abuser Registry (SB 912).  Establishes a centralized database of convicted animal abusers and an animal abuse registry fund, requires information in the registry to be available to the public, provides for an appeal process, prohibits animal shelters, pet stores and breeders from selling or adopting an animal to someone listed on the registry.  This bill is awaiting a vote in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.  This bill has missed the crossover deadline so it is unlikely to move for this year.

 

  • Feral Cats (SB 1010/HB 1473). This bill clarifies that the animal abandonment statute does not apply to a feral cat caretaker, and prohibits local jurisdictions from banning TNR or declaring feral cats a nuisance, potentially dangerous, or dangerous solely because they are unowned.  SB 1010 had a hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee last week and is awaiting a vote.  HB 1473 was filed late and is still in the House Rules Committee.  This bill has missed the crossover deadline so it is unlikely to move for this year.

 

  • Horse Slaughter (HB 1392).  This bill prohibits buying, selling or transporting horsemeat for human consumption or horses for slaughter for human consumption.  It received an unfavorable report from the House Environmental Matters Committee and is dead for the year.

 

  • Baltimore County Shelter (HB 1474).  This is also a late-filed bill that would require Baltimore County animal control to make it a priority to adopt unclaimed dogs or cats and establish a volunteer program.  It has been assigned to the House Rules Committee.  This bill has missed the crossover deadline so it is unlikely to move for this year.

 

Hunting related legislation:

 

  • Montgomery County Safety Zone (SB 309/HB 138):  HB 138 has passed the House and SB 309 has passed the Senate. As amended, this bill would reduce the “safety zone” for bowhunting in Montgomery County from 150 yards to 100 yards.  SB 309 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Environmental Affairs Committee on April 2nd at 1pm.

 

  • St. Mary’s Safety Zone (HB 1133):  HB 1133 has passed the House. This is a similar bill that would reduce the safety zone in St. Mary’s for bowhunting to 100 yards.

 

 

  • Statewide Sunday Hunting (HB 671 & HB 890).  HB 671 would authorize bow hunting of deer on private property on any Sunday of bow hunting season, and HB 890 would remove the county specific Sundayhunting provisions and allow DNR to establish Sunday hunting throughout the entire deer hunting season.  Counties that prohibitSunday hunting are exempt.  Both bills are waiting for votes in the House Environmental Affairs Committee.  These bills have missed the crossover deadline so they are unlikely to move for this year.

 

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Advocacy in Baltimore County, MD

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Baltimore County is a county located in the northern part of the U.S. state of Maryland. As of the 2010 census, the population was 805,029. Baltimore County has a county run animal shelter, Baltimore County Animal Services, which is overseen by the Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and the Director of Health and Human Services, Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch.

In the last 12 month complains from animal advocates in Baltimore County became louder about insufficient animal care in the shelter and the high kill rate of healthy pets. Baltimore County Animal Services did not seem to take the complaints serious and decided to shut out volunteers and announced that more volunteers are not needed.

In response of this, animal advocates from Baltimore County formed a group, Reforming Baltimore County Animal Services.

 

We talked with the President of the group, Sarah Nickol:

sarah

 

Picture courtesy of Meredith Brown showing Sarah Nickol with dog Sarah who is available for adoption.

 

No Kill Allegany County: How did you become involved in animal welfare and advocacy?

Sarah Nickol: I think it is safe to say, I have been involved with animal welfare since the moment I could remember. It started with sneaking the dog food under the table, or insisting the family dog sleeps with me. As for advocacy, well that is my full-time job. I am social worker during the day. It just so happens that these two things finally collided for me.

NKAC: What can you tell us about the animal shelter in Baltimore County?

SN: What can I tell you about the shelter in Baltimore County? Well, first you have to find it. Then once you find it, you need to find a DeLorean and set it to 1930. When I say 1930, I am not referencing the structure, but every aspect of the county shelter: management, policies, operations, and the care provided at the shelter.

NKAC: You have become one of the leaders of the group Reform Baltimore County Animal Services. How did you get involved?

SN: I didn’t get my feet wet till our dog, Ginger passed in May/2013. Our dog that passed was my husband’s prior to our relationship, so this was truly going to be my first dog that I would be looking for as an independent adult with our own home. My only stipulation was the dog had to be a rescue dog. I told my husband he had to do all of the searching, because I had no ability to say “yes” to one and “no” to the rest. Time passed and my husband said, “Sarah you need to help me look.” He might regret that statement now. Needless to say, I discovered the animal rescue world on facebook. Of course we took in two puppers, a “re-home” and a rescue from BCAS. That is when I was introduced to Ms. Kathy Quinn. I am not sure who I fell in love with more, Jazzy (Rescue from BCAS) or Kathy. Jazzy was not easy for his past was not easy. At one point I called Kathy crying, and thinking the world was ending. Kathy showed up at my home so fast, and was there for our family. That will never leave me. As I began to follow Kathy I learned about BCAS. I truly didn’t think places like this existed anymore. I was like every other resident in Baltimore County. I was dumbfounded. My full-time job is advocating, so I did what I knew how to do, advocate.

NKAC: What are the goals of RBCAS and how do you hope to accomplish them?

SN: The animals that end up at our shelter don’t arrive because something amazing happen to them, they arrive because a human relationship failed. Yet, the shelter only exacerbates this. I want just the opposite. You don’t have to be an “animal lover,” but we all want a healthy functioning county, right? Providing a basic level of respect and care to some of the most vulnerable members of our society is having a healthy functioning county. Yes, animals are members of our society, whether you have a pet or not. I am sure you have a neighbor that believes their pet is a family member. Don’t we want a county that helps promote responsible, safe, care of pets? Ultimately I want BCAS to adapt the skills, policies and leaders that will implement all things needed to provide a SAFE, CLEAN, HEALTHY, & COMMUNITY FRIENDLY SHELTER.

NKAC: How do you see the future of Baltimore County Animal Services?

SN: There are many, wonderful, amazing people that came before me, that are still around, and those silently helping; I see a future they have all worked for, have fought for, cried for, and pleaded for. Those days are coming to an end. There is no turning back. This dirty secret is no longer a secret and we will make change. I am so excited for the future.
NKAC: Anything you would like to add?

SN: I can’t stress enough that we all have a role in this, every single role is of value. No contribution is too little. We must spread the word and demand better.

Thank you, Sarah Nickol, for the Interview. Sarah Nickol can be reached via e-mail: reformbcas@gmail.com

Reform Baltimore County Animal Services also has a website which can be found here

The Man in the Arena

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“We will continue to push forward. We will continue to keep saving as many lives as we can. We will continue to strive to be the best we can be. And, today, I guarantee we’ve failed somewhere. And we’ll fail somewhere tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that. But in the end, the only real failure is not to try.”
— Karl Brubaker

Blog of Hope

teddypic

You want to know how to completely frustrate any sense of accomplishment you may have?

Try running an animal shelter.

Seriously, try it. It is a daily exercise in crisis management. You’re always trying to fit ten pounds of crazy into a five-pound bag. When you’re in a facility like ours (ie: aging and not built for our purposes) it’s the same questions over and over: What’s going to break today? How are we going to work around Problem X? Problem Y? Do we need to kick Problem Z down the road a little while we deal with the other two? It can be pretty overwhelming at times.

(I don’t say any of this to elicit sympathy– this is my job. This is my chosen profession and I think most shelter managers would agree a not-insignificant skill among us is the ability to take a beating. As the old saying…

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Maryland Pet Legislation Update 3/18/2014

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The last few days have been a flurry of activity in Annapolis, since they just passed a critical deadline in the General Assembly.  Yesterday was the “crossover” deadline, which is the date by which bills must pass the chamber in which they were introduced (i.e. a House bill must pass the House and a Senate bill must pass the Senate).  This means lawmakers were working overtime to pass as many bills out of committee and off of the floor as possible – including many animal related bills!

If bills did NOT make this deadline, it doesn’t absolutely mean they are dead, but it does mean there are additional hurdles they will face, making it unlikely they will make it through this year.  For bills that DID make the deadline, there are still some additional steps before these bills become law – even if the House and Senate passed identical versions of the same bill.  House bills will now cross over to the Senate and will be scheduled for brief hearings in which only the bill sponsor can testify, and the same is true for Senate bills.  So we will see a second round of hearings and floor votes, even though lawmakers have already heard and voted on their versions these bills.  That’s just the process – a House bill must pass both the House and Senate and/or a Senate bill must pass both the Senate and the House in order to become law.

Thank you to Tami Santelli for the updates.


 

ACTION ITEMS  

***Priority items for the next week***

 

 


 

BILL SUMMARIES AND STATUS:

 

  • Dog Bite Liability (SB 247/HB 73). SB 247 has passed the Senate and HB 73 has passed the House!  This legislation removes strict liability for landlords and other third parties, and puts in place a “rebuttable presumption” for dog owners, regardless of the breed of their dog – and, as amended, it also establishes strict liability for injuries caused by a dog running at large.  You can read the amended language here.  SB 247 has been scheduled for a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on March 25th at 1pm.  For information about next steps, see above.  J  But we are almost there!

 

  • Roadside Zoos (SB 827/HB 1124).  SB 827 has passed the Senate and HB 1124 has passed the House!  As amended by the committees, this legislation would put in place basic requirements for facilities that keep especially dangerous wild animals (big cats, bears and primates).
  • Costs of Care (SB 149/HB 93).  HB 93 has passed the House!  This legislation will allow judges to order people convicted of cruelty to pay the costs of caring for the animals during the trial.  It was substantially amended by theHouse Judiciary Committee so that reimbursement will be capped at $15,000 and would only be available in felony animal cruelty cases.  You can read the amended version here.  We will be working to strengthen the bill in theSenate Judicial Proceedings Committee.  But this legislation has been introduced for several years and this is the first time it has ever moved out of the House Judiciary Committee – so that’s good news!
  • Surgical Procedures (SB 659/HB 665).  SB 659 has passed the Senate and HB 665 has passed the House!  This legislation bans ear cropping, tail docking, removal of dewclaws and C-sections of dogs unless done by a veterinarian under anesthesia.  The Senate adopted an amendment allowing ear cropping, tail docking and the removal of dewclaws by a vet tech under the supervision of a veterinarian, so the differences will have to be reconciled.  You can read the language of SB 659 and HB 665.

 

  • Devocalization (SB 660/HB 667).  SB 660 has passed the Senate and HB 667 has passed the House!  This bill bans debarking or surgically silencing dogs or cats.  The House and Senate adopted slightly different versions, so they will have to be reconciled.

 

  • School Reporting – Animal Cruelty (HB 222).  HB 222 has passed the House!  This bill adds felony animal cruelty to the list of offenses that must be reported to school officials by law enforcement.  It had a hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee TODAY and is now awaiting a vote in that committee.

 

  • Tax Credit – Adopted Police Dogs (HB 1357).  Establishes an income tax credit for qualified veterinary expenses incurred by state or local police officers who adopt a police dog. It is awaiting a vote in the House Ways and Means Committee.  This bill has missed the crossover deadline so it is unlikely to move for this year.

 

  • Tax Credit – Dog/Cat Adoptions (HB 1358).  Establishes an income tax credit for people who adopt a dog or cat from an animal shelter.  It is awaiting a vote in the House Ways and Means Committee.  This bill has missed the crossover deadline so it is unlikely to move for this year.

 

Other dog bite related legislation:

 

 

  • Dog Bite Reporting – Rabies (HB 1204): Requires the owner of a dog who bites someone to provide the injured person with proof of rabies vaccination. It is awaiting a vote in the House Environmental Matters Committee.  This bill has missed the crossover deadline so it is unlikely to move for this year.

Other animal related legislation:

 

  • Animal Abuser Registry (SB 912).  Establishes a centralized database of convicted animal abusers and an animal abuse registry fund, requires information in the registry to be available to the public, provides for an appeal process, prohibits animal shelters, pet stores and breeders from selling or adopting an animal to someone listed on the registry.  This bill is awaiting a vote in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.  This bill has missed the crossover deadline so it is unlikely to move for this year.

 

  • Feral Cats (SB 1010/HB 1473). This bill clarifies that the animal abandonment statute does not apply to a feral cat caretaker, and prohibits local jurisdictions from banning TNR or declaring feral cats a nuisance, potentially dangerous, or dangerous solely because they are unowned.  SB 1010 had a hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee last week and is awaiting a vote.  HB 1473 was filed late and is still in the House Rules Committee.

 

  • Horse Slaughter (HB 1392).  This bill prohibits buying, selling or transporting horsemeat for human consumption or horses for slaughter for human consumption.  It is awaiting a vote in the House Environmental Matters CommitteeThis bill has missed the crossover deadline so it is unlikely to move for this year.

 

  • Baltimore County Shelter (HB 1474).  This is also a late-filed bill that would require Baltimore County animal control to make it a priority to adopt unclaimed dogs or cats and establish a volunteer program.  It has been assigned to the House Rules Committee.  This bill has missed the crossover deadline so it is unlikely to move for this year.

 

Hunting related legislation:

 

  • Montgomery County Safety Zone (SB 309/HB 138):  HB 138 has passed the House and SB 309 has passed the Senate. As amended, this bill would reduce the “safety zone” for bowhunting in Montgomery County from 150 yards to 100 yards.

 

  • St. Mary’s Safety Zone (HB 1133):  HB 1133 has passed the House.  This is a similar bill that would reduce the safety zone in St. Mary’s for bowhunting to 100 yards.

 

 

  • Statewide Sunday Hunting (HB 671 & HB 890).  HB 671 would authorize bow hunting of deer on private property on any Sunday of bow hunting season, and HB 890 would remove the county specific Sunday hunting provisions and allow DNR to establish Sunday hunting throughout the entire deer hunting season.  Counties that prohibit Sundayhunting are exempt.  Both bills are waiting for votes in the House Environmental Affairs Committee.  These bills have missed the crossover deadline so they are unlikely to move for this year.

 


 

UPCOMING HEARINGS

 

 

 

The No Kill Community and Animal Control

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BusbyandHeywardThe number one cause of death for companion animals in the United States is the animal shelter. In the average, 6000 companion animals are being killed in US animal shelters every single day  either by blowing carbon monoxide in a gas chamber or by injection with sodium pentobarbital.
Fortunately for the animals, things are changing. More and more communities are now saving the lives of companion animal that before would have been killed. In a No Kill shelter, adoptable and treatable companion animals are no longer being killed which results in a 90% or higher live release rate.
With the change of philosophy in animal care and sheltering, Animal Control also needs to change philosophy, away from catch and kill to education and assistance, in order to work hand in hand with the animal shelter and create a successful bond.
Mitch Schneider, who was a long time Manager of Washoe County, NV Animal Services gives us some insights:
WCRAS (Washoe County Regional Animal Services) policy directs Animal Control Officers to make every reasonable effort to return animals to their owner instead of impounding the animal.  In addition to checking the pet for identification (tags or microchips), officers will check lost reports and/or with area residents in an attempt to determine if anyone knows were the animal lives. In addition to reducing sheltering costs, this policy also reduces animal abandonment and enhances public support.  A dog license is promoted as “Your Dog’s Ticket Home”; providing a true benefit for licensing increases voluntary compliance, further reducing shelter needs and the inherent potential for abandonment.  Note: upon returning the animal to the owner all laws are enforced and warnings or citations issued as deemed appropriate.
Another traditional practice in animal services that increases abandonment is the policy of not allowing an owner to redeem their pet if they can’t pay all of the fees at the time of redemption.  Continuing to hold the animal until all of the fees are collected simply increases the redemption fees for the pet owner, increases the need for shelter space; it may also reduce public support and increase abandonment and euthanasia rates.  To address this issue Washoe County has established a billing system; this is only done with supervisor permission to ensure that it is only offered as a last resort and kept to a minimum.
 
Operational Principals
  • Collaboration with community animal rescue groups can reduce program costs
  • Establishing niche volunteer opportunities can reduce costs and improve customer service
  • Impounding pets, unless absolutely necessary, is not in anyone’s best interest as it:
    • Increases the need for a larger facility to house more pets
    • Increases stress for the owner and animal alike
    • Increases staff needed for care of the animals
    • Increases abandonment and the associated euthanasia costs
    • Reduces public support
  • Returning animals to owners in the field and issuing the appropriate warning or citation is a more cost effective approach and increases public support
  • Increasing pet registration is necessary to reduce the need for impounding of pets
  • Pet identification through licensing and microchipping initiatives can have a very positive affect on a program’s costs and is an important part of an animal services’ business plan; the City of Calgary funds their entire program through licensing fees for dogs and cats
  • Promoting Trap-Neuter-Return for feral cats reduces costs and increase public support.
  • Encouraging spaying and neutering through differential licensing fees helps to address the pet over-population problem
  • Providing problem pet behavior assistance through a help line and other educational materials is helpful in reducing the abandonment of pets
    • Pet behavior problems cause people to “fall out of love” with their pet and is a major reason for abandonment at shelters
      • Common reasons for abandonment are barking, house-training, chewing, digging and repeatedly running away
Conclusion
With a willingness to move away from traditional practices when necessary, by utilizing current technology to its fullest and collaborating extensively with local animal rescue groups an animal services’ program can reduce costs, increase public support and create a pet friendly, Win-Win program for their community.
An animal control department that passively accepts all animals brought to its doors while actively sweeping harmless loose and stray animals off the streets is a department that assures itself of plenty of work for the future, for its activities do not confront the causes of animal overpopulation and abandonment. Rather, they treat symptoms and in doing so enable the “disease” to continue. A “no questions asked, open-door policy” for animal relinquishers communicates an attitude that animals really are disposable commodities and that it is a proper city government function to provide easy means for disposition.
The Allegany County Animal Shelter changed philosophy by end of 2010 and became a No Kill community with a 96% live release rate in 2013. Of course, things are not perfect and it always will be work in progress. The ACAS Team is working hard to implement new and better solutions as well as new technologies every day to serve the community and the animals.
Ryan Clinton from Austin Pets Alive said:
 “No Kill is not a destination, it is a journey. You aren’t done when you achieve it. We will continue to face obstacles and challenges that we must over come.”

Maryland Pet Legislation Update 3/10/14

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We are entering the part of the legislative session when things get a little bit crazy!  In just the last few days, committees have voted on a TON of animal related bills – bills are either going to start to move quickly . . . or not at all.

Several other bills have started moving, including a bill to tighten up restrictions on roadside zoos.  And the dog bite liability compromise is coming down the home stretch!  See the “Action Items” section below for critical calls to action for this week.  Some important votes are coming up!!

As always, a big thank you to Tami Santelli for providing the extensive updates.

 


 

ACTION ITEMS  

***Priority items for the next week***

  • Dog Bite Liability – Call your delegates!  This will be receiving a vote on the floor of the House this week, and it has already passed the Senate so this is the last critical votes!  Urge your delegates to “pass HB 73 as amended by the House Judiciary Committee, with no additional amendments” (More details are below!).  Then send a follow up email. They will begin debate on this issue TOMORROW!

 

  • Roadside Zoos – Call your senator!  This bill will be up for a vote in the full Senate TOMORROW!  Then send a follow up email

 


 

BILL SUMMARIES AND STATUS:

 

  • Dog Bite Liability (SB 247/HB 73). This legislation removes strict liability for landlords and other third parties, and puts in place a “rebuttable presumption” for dog owners, regardless of the breed of their dog – and, as amended, it also establishes strict liability for injuries caused by a dog running at large.  You can read the amended language here.  The House Judiciary Committee just voted on HB 73 and made the same change that was made in the senate – it will be on the floor of the House TOMORROW!  You can take action HERE.  We are getting close!!!

 

  • Roadside Zoos (SB 827/HB 1124).  As amended by the sponsors, this legislation would put in place basic requirements for facilities that keep especially dangerous wild animals (big cats, bears and primates).  Amendments have been offered after much negotiation with some of Maryland’s smaller zoos and this is a modest step forward in ensuring these animals are only kept by qualified, professional facilities.  It received a favorable report from the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on Friday and will receive a vote in the full Senate THIS WEEK.  Please call your state senator and urge support — then send a follow up email.
  • Costs of Care (SB 149/HB 93).  This legislation will allow judges to order people convicted of cruelty to pay the costs of caring for the animals during the trial. It is awaiting votes in the House Judiciary Committee and the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
  • Cost of Care Task Force (SB 513/HB 795).  This bill sets up a task force to study the fiscal impact of animal cruelty cases on local animal control agencies, in hopes of crafting legislation to reduce the burden.  This received an unfavorable report from theSenate Judicial Proceedings Committee and is likely dead for the year.  This does not mean the committee was against this concept – they are trying to limit the number of task force bills that are passed during an election year, since legislators will be busy campaigning and won’t have a lot of time to spend on legislation during the interim.

 

  • Surgical Procedures (SB 659/HB 665).  This legislation bans ear cropping, tail docking, removal of dewclaws and C-sections of dogs unless done by a veterinarian under anesthesia.  This bill received a favorable report from the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on Friday and will be on the floor of the Senate for a vote on TUESDAY!

 

  • Devocalization (SB 660/HB 667).  This bill bans debarking or surgically silencing dogs or cats.  This bill received a favorable report from the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on Friday and will be on the floor of the Senate for a vote on TUESDAY!

 

  • School Reporting – Animal Cruelty (HB 222).  This bill adds felony animal cruelty to the list of offenses that must be reported to school officials by law enforcement.  This bill has passed the House and has a hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on March 18th at 1pm.

 

  • Tax Credit – Adopted Police Dogs (HB 1357).  Establishes an income tax credit for qualified veterinary expenses incurred by state or local police officers who adopt a police dog. It is awaiting a vote in the House Ways and Means Committee.

 

  • Tax Credit – Dog/Cat Adoptions (HB 1358).  Establishes an income tax credit for people who adopt a dog or cat from an animal shelter.  It is awaiting a vote in the House Ways and Means Committee.

 

Other dog bite related legislation:

 

  • Dog Bite Liability (HB 80): This bill would establish strict liability for dog owners in situations where the dog was running at large – similar language was just amended onto SB 247 on the senate floor.  This concept has been incorporated into the compromise legislation (SB 247/HB 73) and the standalone bill received an unfavorable report from the House Judiciary Committee.
  • Dog Bite Liability (SB 286):  This bill has been introduced by Sen. Zirkin and would establish strict liability for all dog owners, prohibit insurance discrimination and impose a $45 fine on all “animal-related crimes” that would go into a fund to support county animal shelters.  Strict liability legislation has failed in the House twice so it seems unlikely this will get traction, but wanted to pass it along.  It is awaiting a vote in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
  • Dog Bite Liability – Third Parties (HB 563).  This bill deals with the liability imposed on landlords and other third parties by the Court of Appeals ruling on “pit bulls,” and returns landlords to liability standard in place before that case.  This bill received an unfavorable report from the House Judiciary Committee and is dead for the year.

 

  • Prohibiting Breed Discrimination (SB 991/HB 422): This bill prohibits a dog from being deemed dangerous based on breed, prohibits local breed specific laws, and prohibits landlords or homeowners associations from banning specific types of dogs or evicting someone because they have a particular type of dog. It is awaiting a vote in the House Judiciary Committee.  SB 991 is still in the Senate Rules Committee because it was late-filed.

 

  • Dangerous Dogs (HB 371): Del. Glenn has introduced this bill for several years and is a comprehensive upgrade to the state dangerous dog law.  This bill received an unfavorable report from the House Judiciary Committee and is dead for the year.

 

  • Dangerous Dogs – Increased Penalties (HB 523):  Increases penalties for violations for the state dangerous dog law.  This bill received an unfavorable report from the House Judiciary Committee and is dead for the year.

 

 

Other animal related legislation:

 

  • Animal Abuser Registry (HB 373).  This bill requires people convicted of animal cruelty to register with local law enforcement, including address, place of employment, information about the conviction, photograph and fingerprints.  It was given an unfavorable report by the House Judiciary Committee and is dead for the year.

 

  • Animal Abuser Registry (SB 912).  Establishes a centralized database of convicted animal abusers and an animal abuse registry fund, requires information in the registry to be available to the public, provides for an appeal process, prohibits animal shelters, pet stores and breeders from selling or adopting an animal to someone listed on the registry.  This bill is awaiting a vote in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

 

  • Feral Cats (SB 1010/HB 1473). This bill clarifies that the animal abandonment statute does not apply to a feral cat caretaker, and prohibits local jurisdictions from banning TNR or declaring feral cats a nuisance, potentially dangerous, or dangerous solely because they are unowned.  SB 1010 has come out of the Rules committee and is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on WEDNESDAY at 1pm.  Because HB 1473 was filed after the bill introduction deadline, it has been assigned to the House Rules Committee.  If it comes out of Rules, it will be assigned to a standing committee and will be scheduled for a hearing.

 

  • Horse Slaughter (HB 1392).  This bill prohibits buying, selling or transporting horsemeat for human consumption or horses for slaughter for human consumption.  It has been scheduled for a hearing in the House Environmental Matters CommitteeTOMORROW at 1pm.

 

  • Baltimore County Shelter (HB 1474).  This is also a late-filed bill that would require Baltimore County animal control to make it a priority to adopt unclaimed dogs or cats and establish a volunteer program.  It has been assigned to the House Rules Committee.

 

Hunting related legislation:

 

 

 

 

  • Statewide Sunday Hunting (HB 671 & HB 890).  HB 671 would authorize bow hunting of deer on private property on any Sundayof bow hunting season, and HB 890 would remove the county specific Sunday hunting provisions and allow DNR to establishSunday hunting throughout the entire deer hunting season.  Counties that prohibit Sunday hunting are exempt.  Both bills are waiting for votes in the House Environmental Affairs Committee.

 


 

UPCOMING HEARINGS

 

 

 

Maryland Pet Legislation Update 3/6/14

Posted on

Things are really starting to move in Annapolis as committees wrap up some of their hearings and start to vote on bills.  As seen below, several bills have failed (or been withdrawn) since the last update, and some big votes may be coming up in the next week or so.  Over the next couple of weeks are some critical deadlines, including “crossover”—the date by which bills have to pass the chamber in which they were introduced—so we’ll have a much better sense about what has a chance of moving forward . . . and what’s dead for the year.  Please see updates below, including a time sensitive action item for Maryland dogs.  


 

ACTION ITEMS

***Priority items for the next week, based on where things are in the process, hearing dates, upcoming votes, etc.***

 

  • Dog Bite Liability – If one of your delegates is on the House Judiciary Committee, call and urge them to“conform HB 73 to the Senate version (SB 247) and pass without any additional amendments” (More details are below!).  Then send a follow up email. They could vote as early as Friday!!

 


 

BILL SUMMARIES AND STATUS:

 

  • Dog Bite Liability (SB 247/HB 73). These bills remove strict liability for landlords and other third parties, and put in place a “rebuttable presumption” for dog owners, regardless of the breed of their dog – and, as amended by the Senate, SB 247 also establishes strict liability for injuries caused by a dog running at large.  You can read the amended language here.  This new language is language that has been previously passed by the House, so we are hopeful they will accept the changes and quickly pass the bill.  TheHouse Judiciary Committee could vote as early as Friday.  You can take actionHERE.

 

 

 

 

  • Dogs and Cats in Research (SB 862/HB 1347).  This bill requires research facilities in MD that use dogs and cats to be licensed by the Vet Board and inspected quarterly, prohibits the facility from using dogs from Class B dealers, random sourced dogs or dogs that have been devocalized, requires facilities to reduce the numbers of dogs and cats used to the extent possible and to attempt to adopt out dogs and cats that are no longer needed, and requires dogs and cats to be humanely euthanized if not adopted.  This bill had hearings last week and was giving an unfavorable report by the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee – it is likely dead for the year.

 

 

  • Animal Cruelty – Court Costs (SB 682).  This bill imposed an additional $45 fine on people convicted of animal-related crimes, to be used to support the county animal shelter – but it has been withdrawn by the sponsor.

 

  • Tax Credit – Adopted Police Dogs(HB 1357).  Establishes an income tax credit for qualified veterinary expenses incurred by state or local police officers who adopt a police dog. It is awaiting a vote in the House Ways and Means Committee.

 

  • Tax Credit – Dog/Cat Adoptions (HB 1358).  Establishes an income tax credit for people who adopt a dog or cat from an animal shelter.  It is awaiting a vote in the House Ways and Means Committee.

 

Other dog bite related legislation:

 

  • Dog Bite Liability (HB 80): This bill would establish strict liability for dog owners in situations where the dog was running at large – similar language was just amended onto SB 247 on the senate floor.  It is likely that this concept will be incorporated into the compromise legislation.  HB 80 is awaiting a vote in the House Judiciary Committee.
     
  • Dog Bite Liability (SB 286):  This bill has been introduced by Sen. Zirkin and would establish strict liability for all dog owners, prohibit insurance discrimination and impose a $45 fine on all “animal-related crimes” that would go into a fund to support county animal shelters.  Strict liability legislation has failed in the House twice so it seems unlikely this will get traction, but wanted to pass it along.  It is awaiting a vote in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and may still be scheduled for a hearing in theSenate Finance Committee.
     
  • Dog Bite Liability – Insurance (SB 285):  This bill prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage to someone because they own a dog (regardless of the breed of dog) and prohibits insurers from excluding coverage for dog bites. It was given an unfavorable report by the Senate Finance Committee and is dead for the year.

 

  • Dog Bite Liability – Third Parties (HB 563).  This bill deals with the liability imposed on landlords and other third parties by the Court of Appeals ruling on “pit bulls,” and returns landlords to liability standard in place before that case.  It is awaiting a vote in the House Judiciary Committee.

 

  • Prohibiting Breed Discrimination (SB 991/HB 422): This bill prohibits a dog from being deemed dangerous based on breed, prohibits local breed specific laws, and prohibits landlords or homeowners associations from banning specific types of dogs or evicting someone because they have a particular type of dog. It had a hearing last Thursday and is awaiting a vote in the House Judiciary Committee.  SB 991 is still in the Senate Rules Committee because it was late-filed.

 

  • Dangerous Dogs (HB 371): Del. Glenn has introduced this bill for several years and is a comprehensive upgrade to the state dangerous dog law.  We have suggested some amendments to Del. Glenn and it is awaiting a vote in the House Judiciary Committee.

 

  • Dangerous Dogs – Increased Penalties (HB 523):  Increases penalties for violations for the state dangerous dog law.  It is awaiting a vote in the House Judiciary Committee.

 

 

Other animal related legislation:

 

  • Animal Abuser Registry (HB 373).  This bill requires people convicted of animal cruelty to register with local law enforcement, including address, place of employment, information about the conviction, photograph and fingerprints.  It was given an unfavorable report by the House Judiciary Committee and is dead for the year.

 

  • Animal Abuser Registry (SB 912).  Establishes a centralized database of convicted animal abusers and an animal abuse registry fund, requires information in the registry to be available to the public, provides for an appeal process, prohibits animal shelters, pet stores and breeders from selling or adopting an animal to someone listed on the registry.  This bill is awaiting a vote in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

 

  • Feral Cats (SB 1010/HB 1473). This bill clarifies that the animal abandonment statute does not apply to a feral cat caretaker, and prohibits local jurisdictions from banning TNR or declaring feral cats a nuisance, potentially dangerous, or dangerous solely because they are unowned.  SB 1010 has come out of the Rules committee and is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on March 12th at 1pm.  Because HB 1473 was filed after the bill introduction deadline, it has been assigned to the House Rules Committee.  If it comes out of Rules, it will be assigned to a standing committee and will be scheduled for a hearing.

 

 

  • Baltimore County Shelter (HB 1474).  This is also a late-filed bill that would require Baltimore County animal control to make it a priority to adopt unclaimed dogs or cats and establish a volunteer program.  It has been assigned to the House Rules Committee.

 

Hunting related legislation:

 

 

 

 

  • Statewide Sunday Hunting (HB 671 &HB 890).  HB 671 would authorize bow hunting of deer on private property on any Sunday of bow hunting season, and HB 890 would remove the county specific Sunday hunting provisions and allow DNR to establish Sunday hunting throughout the entire deer hunting season.  Counties that prohibit Sunday hunting are exempt.  Both bills are waiting for votes in the House Environmental Affairs Committee

 

  • Deer Baiting (HB 860).  This bill prohibits feeding or baiting deer except for hunting or population control activities authorized by DNR.  This bill was withdrawn by the sponsor.

 


 

UPCOMING HEARINGS

 

 

 

 

Thank you to Tami Santelli for the updates.