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Maryland Governor Signs Numerous Dog Measures

(Tuesday, April 15, 2014)
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has signed several new laws impacting Maryland dog owners:

Dangerous dogs/repeal of breed-specific policies: House Bill 73 / Senate Bill 247 repeal the Tracey v. Solesky Court of Appeals ruling that declared all “pit bulls” as inherently dangerous. The AKC supports the repeal of this discriminatory court ruling.

The measure also establishes that the owner of a dog is liable for any injury, death, or loss to person or property caused while their dog is running at large unless the loss was caused by someone committing or attempting to commit a trespass or other criminal offense or if the dog was being teased, tormented, abused or provoked. The AKC appreciates this amendment that further clarifies when an owner is liable.

It also creates strict liability for all dog owners regardless of the breed they own. If a dog causes personal injury or death, there is then a "rebuttable presumption" that the owner knew or should have known that the dog had vicious or dangerous propensities. A judge may not make a determination on the rebuttable presumption, however, until after the jury has issued a verdict.

The law goes into effect immediately.

Crop/dock/dewclaw removal must be performed by veterinarian: As introduced, Senate Bill 659would have required veterinarians to perform ear cropping, tail docking, dewclaw removal or surgical births using 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 the AKC’s concerns on this point, 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.

This law goes into effect on October 1, 2014.

Ban on surgical devocalization procedures: House Bill 667 / Senate Bill 660 ban surgical devocalization of a dog or cat unless it is medically necessary to treat an illness, injury or defect that is causing the animal harm or pain. A veterinarian will be required to provide a written certification that includes supporting diagnosis and findings as to why the procedure was necessary.

The AKC opposed this measure and sent several letters of concern to the General Assembly and Governor, as well as issued alerts to local clubs and breeders.

This law goes into effect on October 1, 2014.

AKC Government Relations thanks the Maryland Dog Federation and all the fanciers, breeders, and club members who took the time to contact their legislators and the Governor about these and other measures. Click on the links above to view the history for each bill and learn how your legislators voted.
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