Dear MVFA Members,
We are almost halfway through the Maryland General Assembly Session! I have enjoyed seeing many of you in Annapolis for Voices for Animals Day and look forward to seeing others at Humane Lobby Day. For those who could not make it to one of these days, I appreciate your support on behalf of animals in Maryland.
I have listed the status of animal bills that have been introduced. The first three are the priority bills that were highlighted on Voices for Animals Day and Humane Lobby Day.
Please keep responding to Action Alerts so that your legislators know what bills matter to you – and that you are holding them accountable for their votes. They will want a Maryland Votes For Animals endorsement as a humane legislator when election time comes around!
Implements of Dogfighting (HB 583/SB 283) – Closes a loophole in Maryland’s dog fighting law making it a misdemeanor to possess dog fighting implements with the intent to use them for dog fighting. Examples of these implements are breeding or “rape” stands – used to impregnate females, cat mills – where small live animals are used as prey, electrocution wires – for dogs who fail to display adequate aggression during a fight, fighting literature, injectable drugs and wound kits. Some of the items such as breaking sticks and weighted treadmills are used for legitimate purposes by dog trainers, so the intent to fight dogs is an important distinction. This is similar to the laws that passed recently in Baltimore City, Queen Anne’s County, and Pennsylvania. HB 583 is awaiting a vote in the House Judiciary Committee. SB 283 is awaiting a vote in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
Commercial Sale of Dogs and Cats (HB 1113/SB 663) –Restricts pet stores from selling only to USDA licensed breeders who do not have violations under the Federal Animal Welfare Act, cutting out some of the worst breeders from the supply chain who often have multiple violations for failing to adhere to even the most minimum standards required by federal law.. It would also ban roadside sales of dogs as well as at flea markets where there is minimal oversight. HB 1113 is awaiting a hearing in the House Economic Matters Committee on March 8th at 1:00pm. SB 663 is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee on March 10th at 1:00pm.
Wildlife Trafficking Prevention (HB 542/SB 991)) – Prohibits the sale of products from elephants, rhinoceros, sea turtles, great apes, and endangered big cats within Maryland with some exceptions as a means to address the global crisis of poaching of endangered species. Strengthens federal efforts to crack down on wildlife trafficking as the Endangered Species Act does not apply to intrastate commerce and the US Fisheries and Wildlife Service does not have the ability to inspect or patrol all wildlife items in their jurisdictions. HB 542 is awaiting a vote in the House Environment and Transportation Committee. SB 991 will be heard in the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee on March 15th at 1:00pm.
Cattle, Swine, and Poultry- Use of Antimicrobial Drugs (HB 829/SB 607) This bill restricts the use of non-therapeutic anti-microbial drugs on these farm animals ( except dairy cattle and animals on small farm operations) unless there is a prescription or a medical feed directive issued by a licensed veterinarian. HB is awaiting a hearing in the Environment and Transportation Committee. SB 607 is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.
Cats and Dogs Left Unattended Authorized Removal (HB 679) – Authorizes individuals who have contacted law enforcement, fire department or 911 to use reasonable force to rescue a dog or cat provided that the individual remains with the animal until law enforcement arrives and provides contact information and an explanation of why law enforcement was called. Awaiting a hearing in the House Environment and Transportation Committee.
Archery Hunting – Calvert and St. Mary’s County (HB 20) Shortens the safety zone that archery hunters must observe around residential neighborhoods, schools and other occupied buildings from 450 to 150 feet. Awaiting a vote in the House Environment and Transportation Committee.
Humane Adoption of Companion Animals Used in Research (HB 594) Limits the period to two years that animals can be used in research and requires that the research facilities take proper steps to get those animals adopted when they are no longer needed for research purposes. Reassigned to House Health and Government Operations Committee.
Veterinary Care of Retired Law Enforcement K-9’s (HB 438/SB 917) –Requires law enforcement agencies to reimburse individuals who adopt dogs who were formerly used in law enforcement to be reimbursed for veterinary expenses up to a specific amount. HB 438 was given a Favorable Report with amendments by the House Judiciary Committee. SB 917 is awaiting a vote in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
Classwork and Assessment Involving Live and Dead Animals- Student Right of Refusal (SB 901) permits a student to opt out of classwork or activities related to or involving live or dead animals such as dissections, capture, incubation, or other activities and replace it with comparable classwork and assessments. Awaiting a hearing the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.
Law Enforcement Dogs – Protective Equipment (SB 238) – Requires law enforcement agencies using K-9‘s to make protective equipment available to the dog with the determination to be made by the law enforcement agency or the dog’s handler. Awaiting a hearing in the Senate Judicial proceedings Committee.
Sunday Hunting – Statewide Authorization (SB 1061) Allows deer hunting to occur one half hour before sunrise until 10:30am on private property in all counties except Baltimore, prince Georges, Howard, and Baltimore City. Assigned to the Senate Rules Committee
Animal Shelters Standards Act of 2016 (HB 494) This bill sets specific standards for public shelters in a variety of operational and procedural areas including: veterinary care and protocols, time requirements for holding and identifying animals, reporting requirements. This bill would make it a misdemeanor to euthanize an animal in certain circumstances. Awaiting a hearing in the House Environment and Transportation Committee.
Stray Dog Microchip Scans (HB 46) – Requires veterinarians and animal control to scan stray dogs and cats for microchips and notify owners within 48 hours of admission. Awaiting a vote in the House Environment and Transportation Committee.
Allegheny County and Garrett County Black Bears Baiting (HB 755/SB 524) – Prohibits baiting bears or taking bears from a baited area if the person knows that the bears have been baited. SB 755 is awaiting a vote in the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee. HB 755 awaits a hearing in the House Environment and Transportation Committee.
Crimes Related to Animals- Penalties – Mandatory Reporting (SB 722) makes it a crime of a misdemeanor for a veterinarian to fail to report suspected abuse. Increases the penalties for specified crimes against animals, authorizes the court as a condition of probation, to prohibit a defendant from owning, possessing, or residing with an animal. Awaiting a hearing in Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
Aggravated Cruelty in the Presence of a Minor (SB 59) – Increases the penalties for crimes committed against animals in the presence of a minor. Given an Unfavorable Report in the Senate Judicial proceedings Committee.
Authorization to Remove Cats and Dogs from Cars (SB 36) – Allows an individual to remove a cat or dog from a car if its safety is endangered. Currently, only groups such as animal control or law enforcement have that authority. This bill is awaiting a vote in the Judicial Proceedings Committee. Given an Unfavorable Report by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
Therapy Dogs (SB 55) – Allows a child witness to have a therapy dog accompany him/ her during testimony on a motion by a party. Given an Unfavorable Report by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.,
Health Certificates with Sales of Dogs and Cats ( HB 111) – Requires individuals selling cats and dogs to disclose health information and get a health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian. Given an Unfavorable Report by the House Economic Matters Committee.