Abused Animals – Costs of Care

SB-393 / HB-362 – Costs of Care for Seized Animals – will hold owners of abused and neglected animals accountable!

ACT NOW on Care for Abused Animals

Update END OF 2015 SESSION: The Abused Animals Costs of Care bill did not pass and unfortunately died at midnight 4/13/15 when the Maryland General Assembly adjourned the 2015 session. This bill is critical to the enforcement of existing cruelty laws. The MGA will be adjourned until January 2016. The 2015 Legislative wrap-up and voting records are HERE.

Stay tuned to upcoming animal protection issues by making sure you and all your friends are signed up for important Animal Alerts at Animal Action ListWe must all work to increase the number of people involved who can provide a voice to Maryland’s voiceless and protect animals and people who care!  Strength in numbers! Sign up!

Prior Updates:

Update 4/13/15: URGENT! The 2015 session ends TONITE — YOU MUST ACT NOW. Legislators must support a compromise that allows costs in all animal cruelty cases, including misdemeanors!
URGENT –  Send your letter NOW

Update 4/10/15: This important bill is stalled while awaiting a conference committee to be appointed to seek a compromise on differing amendments from the House and Senate. Legislators need to be urged to accept the compromise that allows Judges to order reimbursement of costs in all animal cruelty cases, including misdemeanor cases. The vast majority of animal abuse and neglect cases in Maryland are tried as misdemeanors, and misdemeanors must be included.

Update 4/3/15: The House Judiciary Committee voted in favor of Costs of Cruelty Care bill yesterday, but unfortunately added amendments including one that does not include misdemeanor cases. Misdemeanors represent the vast majority of animal abuse and cruelty cases,  and many of the worst cruelty cases are only misdemeanors in the State of Maryland.  Misdemeanors must be included.

This bill has been amended in both the Senate and the House, with each passing different versions. It will go to Conference Committee to work out a compromise. Legislators need to ensure that the bill compromise allows Judges to order reimbursement in all cruelty cases to lessen the burden on animal control agencies, shelters, and taxpayers, and put that cost where it belongs, on the abusers. 

Update 3/18/15: The House Judiciary Committee voted favorably with amendments. Now that this bill has passed in both the House and Senate Committees, if all amendments match it will move to the floor Vote. Stay tuned!

Update 3/12/15: The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee voted favorably with amendments.   The House Judiciary Committee can vote at anytime! 

Update 3/4/15: The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing today on this important bill and can vote at anytime!  The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee held its hearing last week and can also vote at anytime!

One of the greatest obstacles to enforcing animal cruelty laws in Maryland is the expense of caring for the animals while cruelty charges are prosecuted. As it now stands, shelters are often forced to care for abused animals for extended periods. Abuse cases can go on for months, even years, and the care to help these abused animals is paid for by the shelters and taxpayers, instead of the people who abused the animals. That’s wrong and needs to be fixed.

Maryland has one of the weakest “Cost of Care” laws in the country. It’s one of the reasons Maryland is ranked in the bottom tier in the nation on its animal cruelty laws.

Meanwhile, the shelters and animal control facilities are tasked with caring for abused and neglected animals and can be saddled with costs so steep they can’t take in other animals, or provide other essential services to the community. ACT NOW and help get the Costs of Care bill passed and shift some of this finanaical burden to the owners who abuse and mistreat these animals!

The other sad reality of this situation is what happens to the animals. These animals have already suffered from neglect and abuse and, although they are safe and cared for in shelters, they can be caught in legal limbo that leaves them stuck in shelters for months-or even years while their alleged abuser is prosecuted for cruelty. The original version of this bill provided a hearing process that could require the person to post a bond to pay for care or relinquish the animals so they can be put up for adoption, thereby allowing seized animals to find a new home. However, both amended versions of the bill removed this provision, and it cannot be included at this time. We are supporting the amended version, provided it includes misdemeanors, because it will help lessen the burden of paying for the cost of caring for seized animals, allowing Maryland shelters and animal control agencies to use their resources to help more animals who are victims of abuse and neglect.

Please ACT NOW to provide much-needed relief to animal control agencies and taxpayers, and save the lives of countless animals!