On Thursday, March 4 at 1:30pm, The Maryland House Judiciary Committee will be holding a hearing on House Bill 1080 that addresses the issue of animals that are seized and the costs of their care during impoundment.
AKC strongly believes that those who treat animals in a cruel manner should be held accountable and punished accordingly. Current Maryland law clearly defines cruelty and appropriate penalties. However, House Bill 1080 ignores the basic right of innocent until proven guilty and could cause an owner to permanently lose their animals even if charges are dropped or they are found not guilty.
House Bill 1080 Bill Summary:
As introduced, the bill would create several new provisions, including:
- Allowing for an authorized agent who is required to protect animals to file a petition with a court in the county where a seizure of an animal has occurred for the reasonable cost of caring for the animal, including provisions for food, water, shelter and medical care.
- Requiring the authorized agent to present evidence that demonstrates the amount of reasonable care costs for the seized animal and that the seizure of the animal was warranted. Limits the reasonable cost of care for a seized animal to $15 per day per animal and for necessary medical care as determined and by a licensed veterinarian and documented with invoices.
- Barring the court from considering the owner or custodian’s ability to pay when considering the cost of care and filing fees. Requires the owner or custodian to make payment as required by the order and if they fail to do so the animal shall be automatically forfeited, and the authorized agent shall obtain all rights to the animal.
AKC understands that amendments may be offered, and appreciate that the sponsor has taken the time to talk with the AKC on this issue. We are asking that any amendments address the following concerns:
- Our main concern is the loss of ownership of an animal for failure to make a payment for cost of care if an owner is ultimately found not guilty of the charges.
- The inability for a judge to consider the ability of an owner/custodian to pay in establishing the cost for care.
- There is no limitation to veterinarian care. As such, language needs to be added that states that alteration is allowed only if medically necessary. The animal should be returned as seized, especially if owner or custodian is ultimately found not guilty.
What you can do:
Those who reside or participate in dog events in Maryland are encouraged to contact bill sponsor Delegate Moon and the House Judiciary Committee before the March 4 hearing and ask them to oppose House Bill 1080. While we agree that those convicted of animal cruelty should be held accountable, including paying for the costs of caring for the animals they mistreated. Those who are not guilty should not worry about the loss of their animals for failing to file a timely petition or timely meeting the costs of care requirements placed upon them while awaiting final adjudication of their case.
Click here to contact Delegate David Moon.
Click here for House Judiciary Committee member contact information.
AKC Government Relations and Responsible Dog Owners–Maryland will continue to closely monitor this bill and communicate with the General Assembly. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.