Last week, the 2021 Session of the Maryland General Assembly was adjourned. Overall, the Session could be deemed a success for dogs and responsible dog owners given the outcome of several bills, including:
- House Bill 81/Senate Bill 122 – Regulating Dogs Outdoors: HB 81 and its companion SB 122 sought to address “Unattended Dogs in Extreme Weather” and included prohibitions based solely on absolute temperatures. Exemptions for hunting, livestock herding, sledding, sporting, or training as previously requested by AKC GR were also included. AKC GR attempted to work with the bill sponsors to include acclimation as an exemption for persons who humanely acclimate their dogs to weather in order to perform certain tasks. Also, to ensure protection for all dogs, AKC GR sought to have the phrase: “or in accordance with the age, breed, general health, or condition of the dog and its ability to withstand the environment” included in the bill. See alert.
HB 81 passed the House as introduced and was assigned to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee where SB 122 was heard but not voted on by the Committee. AKC GR was working with Senator Michael Hough to have the bills favorably amended. Neither bill received any additional action in the Senate Committee prior to the last session day.
AKC GR is hoping to work with Senator Hough to try to introduce legislation next session that eliminates absolute temperature language and includes reasonable shelter language that includes a provision for natural and/or artificial shading for dogs on hot summer days. We would ask you to contact Senator Michael Hough and thank him again for his willingness to work with the AKC on amendments to these bills, and to encourage him to continue to work with AKC to introduce improved legislation next session.
- House Bill 1080/Senate Bill 760 – Bond for Care – HB 1080 / SB 760 sought to authorize the filing of a petition against an owner or custodian for reasonable costs of caring for a seized animal, including the provision of food, water, shelter, and medical care. Although the bills limited the daily cost, they still provided for forfeiture of the animal for failure to make the required payment. AKC GR met with both the House and Senate sponsors and testified in both the House and Senate Judicial Proceedings Committees to express our concerns and seek amendments to ensure that when a person found not guilty or charges are dropped, they would retain ownership of the animal. Neither bill had a committee vote. See our previous alert for more information.
- House Bill 293/Senate Bill 200 – Regulating Certain Organized Hunting Contests – HB 293 and SB 200 were reintroductions of legislation from last session. As introduced last session, the bills sought to prohibit a person from sponsoring, conducting, or participating in certain organized contests that have the objective of hunting or killing certain wildlife for prizes or monetary awards. The bills would have negatively impacted field trials and other American Kennel Club sanctioned events. AKC GR and the Sportsmen Alliance worked to have the bill amended to exclude lawful dog training or dog competition events. As mentioned in a previous alert, both bills were introduced this year with the amended language included. HB 293 was passed by both Chambers with a compromise on fines, as well as the important exemption for dog training and competition events.
- Senate Bill 103 – Regulating Online Sales and Establishing a Breeder Standards Task Force – SB 103 was a reintroduction of Senator Ben Kramer’s bill from last session to further ban the retail sale of dogs specifically aimed at brokers. The bill contained amended language from last session requested by the AKC to exclude those hobby breeders who use the internet, Facebook, or brag pages to sell their puppies. As such, AKC took no position on the bill. SB 103 passed the Senate and was amended in the House Economic Matters Committee by Vice Chair, Delegate Kathleen Dumais, “establishing the Task Force to Study Canine Breeding Facilities and Sourcing Standards to examine canine breeding practices and make recommendations by December 1, 2021, for any legislative actions needed to create standards for persons selling dogs in the State.” The American Kennel Club is included on the task force. The bill passed both Chambers as amended and awaits the Governor’s signature. We encourage Maryland breeders to contact Delegate Kathleen Dumais to thank her for including the American Kennel Club as a participant on the Task Force.
AKC Government Relations would like to thank all the Marylanders who took the time to reach to their Delegate and Senator this year to advocate for sensible legislation that protects the health, safety and welfare of dogs and their responsible owners.
For more information on how you can get involved in Maryland, contact AKC GR Legislative Analyst/Community Outreach Coordinator Charley Hall at Charles.Hall@akc.org.