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Maryland Update: Debarking Ban, Crop/Dock Bills to be Considered on March 27!

(Friday, March 21, 2014)
The Maryland House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a public hearing for Thursday, March 27 to discuss a bill (SB 660) that would ban debarking. A second measure (SB 659) would require ear cropping, tail docking and dewclaw removal to be performed by a licensed veterinarian.

These bills have already passed the Senate, and the House overwhelmingly approved companion measures last week. All who reside or participate in dog events in Maryland are strongly encouraged to consider attending the House Judiciary Committee hearing and contact the members of the committee. Scroll down for committee contact information.

Summary:

Senate Bill 659As introduced, this bill would have required veterinarians to perform ear cropping, tail docking, dewclaw removal or surgical births and require that they use anesthesia. The AKC expressed concerns that this would not be in the best interest of dogs, as tail docking is often done when puppies are too young for anesthesia. To address these concerns, the bill was amended to state that anesthesia would only be required “when appropriate.” All these procedures must still be performed by a licensed veterinarian or by a registered veterinary technician employed by and under the supervision of a licensed veteriarian. The companion House Bill 665 passed the House last week.

Senate Bill 660This bill bans debarking unless 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. A companion bill in the Maryland House (HB 667) passed the House last week.

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 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:

Read the AKC’s position statement on debarking
Read AKC’s Issue Analysis: Dispelling the Myths of Cropped Ears, Docked Tails, Dewclaws, and Debarking

What You Can Do:

Attend the committee hearing*
on Thursday, March 27 and contact the members of the committee:

House Judiciary Committee Hearing (click on the link to access contact information for the committee)
Thursday, March 27, 2014
1:00 p.m.
Room 100, House Office Building
Annapolis, MD 21401

*If you wish to testify, you must sign in 15 minutes prior to the hearing and submit 35 copies to the committee clerk by noon. You may also sign a “witness sheet” in which you do not have to testify, but your position on the bill is recorded.

AKC Government Relations will continue to closely monitor these and all dog-related measures in Maryland and provide information as it becomes available. For questions or more information, contact AKC GR at (919) 816-3720 or doglaw@akc.org.