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Maryland Committee to Consider Several Important Dog-Related Bills on February 20

(Monday, February 03, 2014)
An important committee hearing for dog owners has been scheduled for the Maryland House Judiciary Committee for Thursday, February 20. Measures scheduled for consideration include a positive bill prohibiting breed-specific legislation in the state. The committee is also considering some problematic measures, including unreasonable restrictions on debarking, cropping, docking and dewclaw removal.

Those who reside or participate in dog events in Maryland are strongly encouraged to attend the committee hearing and contact the committee members. Scroll down for committee hearing and contact information.

Summary:

Numerous bills are scheduled for the February 20 Maryland House Judiciary Committee meeting, including:

House Bill 422This bill states that a dog may not be declared potentially dangerous based solely on the dog’s “breed, type or heritage” and prohibits counties and municipalities from enacting laws prohibiting ownership of specific breeds. It also states that a homeowner or tenant may not be prohibited from owning a specific breed of dog, or be evicted or denied occupancy because of the breed of dog they own. The bill does not prohibit landlords from restricting ownership of all dogs or of dogs declared dangerous under Maryland law. The AKC and Maryland Dog Federation both support this bill.

House Bill 665This bill would allow only veterinarians to perform ear cropping, tail docking, dewclaw removal or surgical births and require that they use anesthesia. The AKC and Maryland Dog Federation have concerns with this bill, as tail docking and dewclaw removal are typically performed when a dog is very young, before its nerves are sufficiently developed to feel pain. Anesthesia would endanger or kill a young puppy and waiting until the dog is older would cause unnecessary pain and suffering.

House Bill 667This bill only allows debarking if it is medically necessary to treat an illness, injury or defect that is causing the animal harm or pain. A veterinarian would be required to provide a written certification that includes supporting diagnosis and findings as to why the procedure was necessary.

There is much misinformation about the veterinary surgical procedure of debarking. Debarking is a viable veterinary procedure that may allow a dog owner to keep a dog in its loving home rather than to be forced to euthanize or surrender it to a shelter when the pet's noisy behavior continually disrupts the community. Debarking should only be performed under anesthesia by a qualified veterinarian after behavioral modification efforts to correct a dog’s excessive barking have failed. As with other veterinary medical decisions, the decision to debark a dog is best left to individual owners and their veterinarians.

Talking Points for HB 665 and HB 667:

Read the AKC’s position statement on ear cropping, tail docking and dewclaw removal
Read the AKC’s position statement on debarking
Read AKC’s issue brief on Ear Cropping and Tail Docking
Read AKC’s Issue Analysis: Dispelling the Myths of Cropped Ears, Docked Tails, Dewclaws, and Debarking

Other bills scheduled to be considered by the committee on February 20 include:

House Bill 313This bill establishes a statewide animal abuser registry. An adult convicted of animal cruelty in any state must register in Maryland if they are in the state for more than 10 days. If the convicted person is a Maryland resident, they must reregister within 10 days of moving within the state.

House Bill 371 – This measure requires owners of dangerous dogs as defined in state law to obtain a dangerous dog registration certificate within 10 days. The registration must include the breed, identification (microchip number), and verification that the dog has been sterilized and has a current rabies vaccination. The registration must also state that the dog will be confined to the owner’s residence or kept in a securely enclosed or locked pen. A “dangerous dog” is defined as one that has killed or inflicted severe injury on a person without provocation or killed or inflicted severe injury on a domestic animal when the dog was not on its own property. Exemptions are provided for cases when the victim was committing a crime or provoking the dog.

House Bill 523This bill would increase the penalty for those who violate the state’s dangerous dog laws. The penalty is increased from a $2,500 fine to imprisonment not to exceed three years, a $5,000 fine, or both.

House Bill 563This bill, like many under consideration this year in Maryland, seeks to repeal the Court of Appeals ruling in Tracy v. Solesky that declared “pit bulls” as “inherently dangerous” and held landlords liable for actions by a pit bull that take place on their property. HB 563 states that in a civil action against an owner of real property for personal injury damages caused by a dog, the law is reverted back to what it was prior to the court ruling. It does not apply to a dog’s owner, but rather only to the landlord or owner of the property where the action was committed.

What You Can Do:

  • Attend the House Judiciary Committee Meeting on February 20.
    Maryland House Judiciary Committee hearing
    Thursday, February 20, 2014
    1:00 pm
    House Office Building, Room 100
    Annapolis, MD 21401

    ** If you wish to testify, you must sign the witness register at least 15 minutes prior to the hearing. If you wish to submit written testimony, you must provide 35 copies to the committee clerk at least 60 minutes prior to the hearing.
  • Contact the members of the House Judiciary Committee. Ask them to support House Bill 422 and express concerns with House Bills 665 and 667, along with any comments you have on other legislation being considered. To access committee contact information, click here.

    Delegate Joseph Vallario (Chair)
    Address: 101 House Office Building
    6 Bladen Street
    Annapolis, MD 21401
    Phone: 301-858-3488 | Toll-free in MD: 1-800-492-7122 ext. 3488
    E-mail: Contact Online or send email to: joseph.vallario@house.state.md.us

    Delegate Kathleen Dumais (Vice Chair)
    Address: 101 House Office Building
    6 Bladen Street
    Annapolis, MD 21401
    Phone:
    301-858-3052 | Toll-free in MD: 1-800-492-7122 ext. 3052
    E-mail:
    Contact Online or send email to: kathleen.dumais@house.state.md.us

    Delegate Curt Anderson
    Address: 314 House Office Building
    6 Bladen Street
    Annapolis, MD 21401
    Phone:
    410-841-3291 | Toll-free in MD: 1-800-492-7122 ext. 3291
    E-mail:
    Contact Online or send email to: curt.anderson@house.state.md.us

    Delegate Sam Arora
    Address: 224 House Office Building
    6 Bladen Street
    Annapolis, MD 21401
    Phone:
    301-858-3528 | Toll-free in MD: 1-800-492-7122 ext. 3528
    E-mail:
    Contact Online or send email to: sam.arora@house.state.md.us

    Delegate Jill Carter
    Address: 317 House Office Building
    6 Bladen Street
    Annapolis, MD 21401
    Phone:
    410-841-3268 | Toll-free in MD: 1-800-492-7122 ext. 3268
    E-mail:
    Contact Online or send email to: jill.carter@house.state.md.us

    Delegate Luke Clippinger
    Address: 316 House Office Building
    6 Bladen Street
    Annapolis, MD 21401
    Phone:
    410-841-3303 | Toll-free in MD: 1-800-492-7122 ext. 3303
    E-mail:
    Contact Online or send email to: luke.clippinger@house.state.md.us

    Delegate John W. E. Cluster, Jr.
    Address: 308 House Office Building
    6 Bladen Street
    Annapolis, MD 21401
    Phone:
    410-841-3526 | Toll-free in MD: 1-800-492-7122 ext. 3526
    E-mail:
    Contact Online or send email to: john.cluster@house.state.md.us

    Delegate Frank Conaway
    Address: 314 House Office Building
    6 Bladen Street
    Annapolis, MD 21401
    Phone:
    410-841-3189 | Toll-free in MD: 1-800-492-7122 ext. 3189
    E-mail:
    Contact Online or send email to: frank.conaway@house.state.md.us

    Delegate Glen Glass
    Address: 325 House Office Building
    6 Bladen Street
    Annapolis, MD 21401
    Phone:
    410-841-3280 | Toll-free in MD: 1-800-492-7122 ext. 3280
    E-mail:
    Contact Online or send email to: glen.glass@house.state.md.us

    Delegate Michael Hough
    Address: 213 House Office Building
    6 Bladen Street
    Annapolis, MD 21401
    Phone:
    301-858-3472 | Toll-free in MD: 1-800-492-7122 ext. 3472
    E-mail:
    Contact Online or send email to: michael.hough@house.state.md.us

    Delegate Kevin Kelly
    Address: 410A House Office Building
    6 Bladen Street
    Annapolis, MD 21401
    Phone:
    301-858-3404 | Toll-free in MD: 1-800-492-7122 ext. 3404
    E-mail:
    Contact Online or send email to: kevin.kelly@house.state.md.us

    Delegate Susan Lee
    Address: 414 House Office Building
    6 Bladen Street
    Annapolis, MD 21401
    Phone:
    301-858-3649 | Toll-free in MD: 1-800-492-7122 ext. 3649
    E-mail:
    Contact Online or send email to: susan.lee@house.state.md.us

    Delegate Susan McComas
    Address: 319 House Office Building
    6 Bladen Street
    Annapolis, MD 21401
    Phone:
    410-841-3272 | 301-858-3272 | Toll-free in MD: 1-800-492-7122 ext. 3272
    E-mail:
    Contact Online or send email to: susan.mccomas@house.state.md.us

    Delegate Michael McDermott
    Address: 323 House Office Building
    6 Bladen Street
    Annapolis, MD 21401
    Phone:
    301-858-3431 | Toll-free in MD: 1-800-492-7122 ext. 3431
    E-mail:
    Contact Online or send email to: mike.mcdermott@house.state.md.us

    Delegate Neil Parrott
    Address: 213 House Office Building
    6 Bladen Street
    Annapolis, MD 21401
    Phone:
    301-858-3636 | Toll-free in MD: 1-800-492-7122 ext. 3636
    E-mail:
    Contact Online or send email to: neil.parrott@house.state.md.us

    Delegate Samuel Rosenberg
    Address: 365 House Office Building
    6 Bladen Street
    Annapolis, MD 21401
    Phone:
    410-841-3297 | Toll-free in MD: 1-800-492-7122 ext. 3297
    E-mail:
    Contact Online or send email to: samuel.rosenberg@house.state.md.us

    Delegate Luiz Simmons
    Address: 226 House Office Building
    6 Bladen Street
    Annapolis, MD 21401
    Phone:
    301-858-3037 | Toll-free in MD: 1-800-492-7122 ext. 3037
    E-mail:
    Contact Online or send email to: luiz.simmons@house.state.md.us

    Delegate Michael Smigiel, Sr.
    Address: 323 House Office Building
    6 Bladen Street
    Annapolis, MD 21401
    Phone:
    410-841-3555 | Toll-free in MD: 1-800-492-7122 ext. 3555
    E-mail:
    Contact Online or send email to: michael.smigiel@house.state.md.us

    Delegate Darren Swain
    Address: 204 House Office Building
    6 Bladen Street
    Annapolis, MD 21401
    Phone:
    301-858-3692 | Toll-free in MD: 1-800-492-7122 ext. 3692
    E-mail:
    Contact Online or send email to: darren.swain@house.state.md.us

    Delegate Kriselda Valderrama
    Address: 205 House Office Building
    6 Bladen Street
    Annapolis, MD 21401
    Phone:
    301-858-3210 | Toll-free in MD: 1-800-492-7122 ext. 3210
    E-mail:
    Contact Online or send email to: kris.valderrama@house.state.md.us

    Delegate Geraldine Valentino-Smith
    Address: 209 House Office Building
    6 Bladen Street
    Annapolis, MD 21401
    Phone:
    301-858-3101 | Toll-free in MD: 1-800-492-7122 ext. 3101
    E-mail:
    Contact Online or send email to: geraldine.valentino.smith@house.state.md.us

    Delegate Jeff Walstreicher
    Address: 221 House Office Building
    6 Bladen Street
    Annapolis, MD 21401
    Phone:
    301-858-3130 | Toll-free in MD: 1-800-492-7122 ext. 3130
    E-mail:
    Contact Online or send email to: jeff.waldstreicher@house.state.md.us

The AKC Government Relations Department (AKC GR) will continue to closely monitor these bills and provide more information. For questions, contact AKC GR at (919) 816-3720 or doglaw@akc.org or the Maryland Dog Federation at marylanddogfederation@yahoo.com.