On Monday, March 21, 2022, the Maryland Senate passed Senate Bill 44 which regulates dogs outdoors and unattended in certain weather conditions and temperatures.
The bill is schedule for a hearing before the House Environment and Transportation Committee at 1:00pm on Wednesday, March 30,2022. Written comments will only be accepted on Monday, March 28. Scroll down for more information on how to submit comments.
As mentioned in a previous alert, the AKC remains very grateful that the bill allows exemptions “if the dog is lawfully and actively engaged in hunting; livestock herding or guarding; sledding; sporting; or training.” which we requested to make sure the bill does not impact dog shows, field trials, Rally, agility, hunting, and other humane activities.
Additionally, language amending what is considered “suitable shelter” was approved by the Senate.
However, AKC remains concerns about situations that have not been addressed.
Our chief concern is the bill’s reliance on an absolute temperature to determine when a dog may be endangered by extreme weather instead of the dog itself. When considering dogs ability to handle the weather, we should be looking at the individual dog and its ability to handle the environment based on its breed (or mix thereof), its general health and condition, and its age (younger and older dogs of a particular breed/mix that can generally handle the elements may not be able as a puppy or a senior dog).
Further, Senate Bill 44 places many dogs at danger by ignoring the American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines for the protection of dogs in summer months by failing to require access to continuous shade for a dog outdoors during summer months so long as the temperature does not exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
What You Can Do:
Maryland residents and those who participate in dog events in Maryland are encouraged to take the actions listed below. Let the committee know you appreciate the exemptions currently in the bill.
Let them know that while this bill will protect some dogs in Maryland, it does not protect all dogs in Maryland.
Let them know that dogs need protection from the sun and should have a shaded area to access during the warmer months of the year well before the temperature reaches 90 degrees.
Remind them that dogs are the most diverse mammals on earth and laws regulating dogs outdoors should not be “one size fits all” but should acknowledge that diversity by being based on the individual dog’s age, breed, general health and condition and its ability to withstand the environment and not an arbitrary number on a thermometer.
Ask them to not support the bill until it is amended to address the needs of dogs and not the wants of humans.
Submit testimony to the Committee on March 28: Witness sign-up and written testimony submission is only available Monday, March 28, 2022 from 8:00 am – 3:00 pm.
Instruction on submitting testimony for the hearing can be found here.
Click here for House Environment and Transportation Committee member contact information and contact the members prior to the 1:00 pm hearing on March 30, 2022.
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 .