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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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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

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Yesterday was a interesting and exciting day in Annapolis, MD for dog owners and of course Pit Bull type dogs. Here are the updates and details for the two most important bills, SB247 and HB422:

 (SB 247/HB 73):This is the compromise legislation reversing the Court of Appeals decision that pit bull type dogs are inherently dangerous. 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.
The Second Reading of SB247 was concluded. As expected, Senator Zirking attempted to add an amendment re: strict liability. There was much discussion about that amendment. It was voted upon and failed.
A second amendment was introduced by Senator Zirkin, it was related to dogs running at large. It went quickly and failed.
Then Senator Raskin asked for a reconsideration of the 2nd amendment— “establishing that the owner of a dog is liable for injury, death, or loss to person or property that is caused by the dog while the dog is running at large; establishing certain exceptions;”.—–this amendment PASSED by a narrow margin.
Text of the amendment is here:
(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.

The House Judiciary Committee met to hear HB 422, a bill that would prevent breed discriminatory laws on the state level.

According to the bills sponsor, the bill was submitted due to the Solesky decision.   The bill, which if it remains as is, would outlaw breed discriminatory laws on the state level, repeal existing ordinances and prohibit landlords from discriminating against tenets with certain breeds of dogs.

The bills sponsor pointed out the some of the numerous issues caused by BDL and the precedent of the 17 states that currently outlaw BDL and the additional states that are considering anti-BDL bills this year.

Right away one member of the committee raise the issue of Prince George’s County and what would happen to their ban.  The sponsor stated that it was her intention that existing ordinances would be grandfathered in, but the language of the bill does not allow for that.  The bills sponsor said that she would amend to clarify that issue.

It is important to note that the Chief of Prince George’s County Animal Management Division was present and testified in support of the bill.  He was asked to testify for the bill by the head on the Animal Management Services Division.  During what was a compelling testimony, he stated that 793 dogs were confiscated under the ban in the 2013 fiscal year.   Roughly 75% of confiscated dogs were euthanized.  $250,000 have been spent in Prince George’s County on enforcement of the ban in 2 years.  He also testified that the number one biter was either labs or cocker spaniels.  He stated that the ban has done nothing for Prince George’s County but separate well-behaved dogs from good families and that the focus needs to be on effective solutions.  He testified that the ban has not worked for Prince George’s County.

The portion of the bill which was most hotly contested was the portion relating to landlords.  Many people testified in support of the bill, with the exception of that particular portion.  Considering that the legislature has failed to address the effects of the court ruling, that particular portion of the bill would put landlords in an impossible position.  Again, amendments were suggested to remove the language pertaining to landlord discrimination.

Many people testified in support of the bill, but very oppose it.  Not surprisingly, Tony Solesky, whose son was the center point in the appeals court ruling, testified against.  There was a pattern during that day’s hearing.  There were many bills regarding dangerous dogs that were heard.  Tony Solesky testified against every single one regarding dangerous dogs, and spent the entire time focusing on breed instead of lobbying for effective solutions that have a chance of effecting change, and passing through the process.

For example, HB 371 was heard.  This bill is to strengthen the dangerous dog laws in breed neutral way.  Increasing penalties, and strengthening the requirements for those who have dangerous dogs.  Solesky testified against strengthening the dangerous dog laws because it was breed neutral and behavior based and tried to lobby for the bill to be breed based, saying that Maryland should be able to “…simply eliminate certain breeds of dogs the same way we eliminate, why wild animals aren’t allowed among us.”

This stark opposition to any form of solidifying the dangerous dog laws in a breed neutral way is confounding.  Victims are no more or less of a victim if they are attacked by one type of dog or another.  We point to this specifically in order to show that the issue is not really about public safety for the pro-BDL lobby.

Maryland legislators have heard a lot of information about the failures of breed discriminatory laws over the last few years.  Many of them come into the hearing for HB 422 extremely well versed in the failures and short comings of such legislation.

As things stand now, the committee has not acted.  Because the sponsor has said that she is drafting amendments to the bill, it is possible that the committee will not act on the bill until that is done.

Pet Legislation in Maryland

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chrisThe bill introduction deadlines now have passed in Maryland, which means the first phase of the legislative session has ended!

Barring any last minute emergency bills, all the animal bills that will be considered this year have been introduced. Never before have we seen so many pet related bills in one session in Maryland.

Our main interest here in Maryland of course is the reverse of the Court of Appeals ruling in Tracey vs Solesky which basically is a State wide Breed Discriminatory Legislation.

Below is a overview of all current bills that have been introduced and may be coming up for vote.

 

BILL SUMMARIES AND STATUS:

  • Dog Bite Liability (SB 247/HB 73). This is the compromise legislation reversing the Court of Appeals decision that “pit bulls” are “inherently dangerous.” 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.  This legislation is awaiting votes in the House Judiciary Committee and the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.  If your legislators are on these committees, call them and ask for their support!  Then send a follow up email.

 

  • 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.  It has a hearing in the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee on February 25th at 1pm and in the House Environmental Matters Committee on February 26th.
  • 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 just passed the House!
  • Animal Cruelty – Court Costs (SB 682).  This bill imposes an additional $45 fine on people convicted of animal-related crimes, to be used to support the county animal shelter. It has been scheduled for hearings in Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee onMarch 5th 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 has been scheduled for a hearing in the House Ways and Means Committeeon March 4th at 1pm.

 

  • 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 has been scheduled for a hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee on March 4th at 1pm.

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.  During the special session in 2012, similar legislation passed the House but the Senate declined to take it up.  It 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 the Senate 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 is awaiting a vote in the Senate Finance 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.  It has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee and is scheduled for a hearing on February 20 at 1pm.
  • 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 has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee and is scheduled for a hearing on February 20 at 1pm.
  • 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 worked with Del. Glenn on some amendments the last time it was introduced and I will reach out to her again.  It has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee and is scheduled for a hearing on February 20 at 1pm.
  • Dangerous Dogs – Increased Penalties (HB 523):  Increases penalties for violations for the state dangerous dog law.  It has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee and is scheduled for a hearing on February 20 at 1pm.

 

  • Dog Bite Reporting (HB 89):  Currently, counties are required to report the number of bite exposures to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.  This bill would also require counties to report the breed and size of the dog, and the circumstances surrounding the incident.  It is awaiting a vote in the Health and Government Operations 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 has been assigned to theHouse Judiciary Committee and is scheduled for a hearing on February 20 at 1pm.
  • 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 has been scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on February 19th at 1pm.
  • Feral Cats (SB 1010). 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.  It was filed after the bill introduction deadline so 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 was filed after the bill introduction deadline so 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.

Hunting related legislation:

  • St. Mary’s Safety Zone (HB 1133):  This is a similar bill that would reduce the safety zone in St. Mary’s for bowhunting to 100 yards.  It has been scheduled for a hearing in the House Environmental Affairs Committee on February 28th.

 

  • 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 have been assigned to the House Environmental Affairs Committee.  HB 671 had its hearing yesterday and HB 890 is scheduled for a hearing on February 19th at 1pm.

 

  • Deer Baiting (HB 860).  This bill prohibits feeding or baiting deer except for hunting or population control activities authorized by DNR.  It has been scheduled for a hearing in the House Environmental Affairs Committee on February 19th at 1pm.

 

UPCOMING HEARINGS

In case it’s easier to see all the hearings in one place, here they are!

Thank you to Tami Santelli for compiling the updates.

Legislation in Maryland

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Things are heating up in Annapolis as bill introduction deadlines approach — today, 1/31/14,  is the last day bills can be introduced in the Senate, and next Friday is the deadline for the House.  So we should see LOTS of new bills popping up in the next few days.  It’s been a busy start of the session with many hearings already scheduled and completed! 

Here are the details on the animal related bills that have been introduced so far.

  • Dog Bite Liability (SB 247/HB 73). This is the compromise legislation reversing the Court of Appeals decision that “pit bulls” are “inherently dangerous.” 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.  The hearing in the House Judiciary Committee was last Thursday and it went well – the room was packed.  It’s scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on February 6 at 1pm.  If your legislators are on these committees, call them and ask for their support! Then send a follow up email.
  • Costs of Cruelty (SB 149/HB 93).  This legislation has been around for the last couple of years and passes the Senate only to get stuck in the House Judiciary committee.  It will allow judges to order people convicted of cruelty to pay the costs of caring for the animals during the trial.  This is critical for animal control folks, since they are often stuck with the bill – which can be tens of thousands (sometimes hundreds of thousands!) of dollars.  This bill was also heard in the House Judiciary Committee last Thursday and had a hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee yesterday, and is awaiting votes in those committees.  If your legislators are on these committees, call and ask for their support!
  • Animal Cruelty Task Force (SB 513).  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 legisaltion to reduce the burden.  It has been scheduled for a hearing in the  Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on February 19 at 1pm.
  • 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.  It had a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee yesterday and is awaiting a vote in that committee.

Other dog bite related legislation:

  • Dog Bite Liability (HB 80): This legislation is similar to legislation that was considered during the special session last August – it would establish strict liability for dog owners in situations where the dog was running at large.  This bill passed the House but the Senate declined to take it up.  But I wanted everyone to at least know it’s out there.  It’s been introduced by Del. Smigiel and 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 has been assigned to two committees — it is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on February 6 at 1pm and is awaiting a hearing date in the Senate 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 is scheduled for a hearing in theSenate Finance Committee on Tuesday, February 4.
  • 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 has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee and is scheduled for a hearing on February 20 at 1pm.
  • Dog Bite Reporting (HB 89):  Currently, counties are required to report the number of bite exposures to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.  This bill would also require counties to report the breed and size of the dog, and the circumstances surrounding the incident.  It is awaiting a vote in the Health and Government Operations Committee.
  • Dog Licensing (HB 66):  This bill would require counties to require dog licensing.  It is awaiting a vote in the House Environmental Matters Committee.
  • 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 worked with Del. Glenn on some amendments the last time it was introduced and I will reach out to her again.  It has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee and is scheduled for a hearing onFebruary 20 at 1pm.
  • Dangerous Dogs – Increased Penalties (HB 523):  Increases penalties for violations fo the state dangerous dog law.  It has been assigned to theHouse Judiciary Committee and is scheduled for a hearing onFebruary 20 at 1pm.
  • Prohibiting Breed Discrimination (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 has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee and is scheduled for a hearing on February 20 at 1pm.

Other animal related legislation:

  • Animal Abuser Registry (HB 373).  This is the first of several bills like this — setting up a registry for people convicted of animal cruelty.  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 has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee and is scheduled for a hearing on February 20 at 1pm.

Hunting related legislation (for specific counties):

  • Montgomery County Safety Zone (SB 309/HB 138):  This bill would reduce the “safety zone” for bowhunting in Montgomery County – i.e. to allow bowhunting CLOSER to occupied residences, churches or other buildings occupied by people.  Currently, in most counties, it is illegal to bowhunt within 150 yards from an occupied residence.  This bill would reduce that “safety zone” to 50 yards in Montgomery County.  It is currently being considered by the Montgomery County Delegation (i.e. state legislators from Montgomery County) and has a work and voting session scheduled in the Land Use & Transportation Committee on Thursday.
  • Anne Arundel Sunday Hunting (SB 191/HB 197):  Expands hunting on Sundays in Anne Arundel County.  This legislation had a hearing in the House Environmental Affairs Committee this week and is waiting for a hearing date in the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.
  • Western Maryland Sunday Hunting (SB 472, SB 473/HB 406HB 432):  Expands hunting on Sundays in Garrett, Allegany and Washington Counties.  These bills have hearings in the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee onFebruary 11 at 1pm, and are awaiting a hearing date in the House Environmental Matters Committee.

IMPORTANT LINKS:

  • Find out who represents you here:  http://mdelect.net
  • Check out the Maryland General Assembly website!  It allows you to search bills by topics AND to tag bills and track them!  You can choose to have emails sent to you regularly with updates on their status.  This is a fantastic feature and totally free.  You can see most of the animal related bills here.

 

(Thank you to Tami Santelli for the updates)

Support Spay/Neuter Program For Maryland (UPDATE)

Posted on Updated on

UPDATE  3/7/2013:

There are indications that the pet food Industry is rearing it’s ugly head in the State of Maryland. It seems the Pet Food Institute, which is the voice of the pet food industry, has hired a lobbying and communication company for a large scale defamation campaign in order to stop the spay & neuter program in the State of Maryland. The lobbying company, Hubbell Communications, has done the same before in the State of Oregon and also tried in the State of West Virginia. They have created a Facebook page called SPOT Maryland.

Remember, while looking at the Facebook page of SPOT Maryland, they do not speak for the animals. They do, however, speak for the money, regardless where it comes from.

 

dog-mdEvery year about 96000 pets enter a animal shelter in the State of Maryland. In the average only 50% of this pets will leave Maryland’s  animal shelter alive. The animal shelter in Allegany County is the exception in the State of Maryland with a life release rate of  96% for dogs and 94.5% for cats in the year 2012. Many other animal shelter in the State of Maryland have a life release rate even below 50%.

The No Kill Advocacy Center has developed a 11 step program that animal shelters can implement to safe the lives of animals entering the shelter. One of the steps in the No Kill Equation is a affordable spay & neuter program. Some counties and cities already have a affordable spay & neuter program but many counties, like Allegany County, don’t offer such a program.

The group Maryland Votes for Animals, together with Legislators in Maryland and other groups, has developed and introduced a Bill (SB 820 / HB 767) to the General Assembly in Maryland that would offer a affordable spay & neuter program state wide to everybody. Today, March 5th 2013, is the Bill’s second hearing in the General Assembly in Maryland.

Here a short overview about what the Bill means and does:

The needless and tragic reality of euthanasia in Maryland animal shelters costs Maryland taxpayers $8 to $9 million dollars every year. A state spay/neuter program is the most humane and effective solution to save animals – and money.

The Maryland spay/neuter bill is modeled on the best and most successful programs in the nation, including the New Jersey and New Hampshire programs. New Jersey and New Hampshire have reduced their euthanasia rate by 61% and over 75% respectively.

The bill will generate funding from a manufacturer surcharge on already existing pet food registration fees. The pet food industry is a $20 billion dollar industry with excellent sales projections for future years. Of all the funding mechanisms considered by the Legislative Spay/Neuter Task Force, this source was found to be the most reliable, sustainable and fair. If the manufacturers trickle this down, the maximum impact on individuals would be $0.36/pet/year.

The spay/neuter bill would put a surcharge on the fee that manufacturers must pay to sell pet food in Maryland. If the manufacturers pass this down to the consumer, it would be less than $0.03/month/pet (dogs and cats only).

Only $0.36/pet/year to save thousands of homeless animals who are euthanized in Maryland’s shelters.

Remember, the pet food industry is a $20 billion dollar industry!

In other words, it is a great program that could safe the lives of thousands of pets in the State of Maryland. Please help to support this program by:

Signing the spay & neuter petition

Send a pre-configured message to your Legislator

For further reading:

Save Maryland Pets

Maryland Votes For Animals

Update to the Pit Bull ruling in Maryland

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The General Assembly in Maryland will come together for a last session August 9/10 2012. The Joint Task Force Group, a 10 member group that was created after the MD Court of Appeals ruling (Tracey v Solesky), will try to introduce a legislation that will prevent any Breed Specific Legislation that was created by the MD Court of Appeals. The legislation of the Joint Task Force Group, which was drafted after the hearing of the Joint Task Force Group on June 19 2012, will include strict liability for dog owners. Currently Maryland is a minority State for not having this strict liability in place, 33 States across the United States do have the strict liability for dog owners in place. What it simply means is that the dog owner (and only the dog owner) will be held liable for the actions of his dog, regardless of the breed. The strict liability will exclude the liability for Landlords, veterinarians, dog groomers, dog trainers and any other 3rd parties. Removed also will be the “inherently dangerous” section for Pit Bulls.

I urge everybody to contact your elected official and ask to support the legislation of the Joint Task Force Group. You can find your local elected official here