The Maryland House Environment and Transportation Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on Friday, January 15, 2021, on House Bill 81, and the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on Wednesday, January 20, 2021, on Senate Bill 122. These identical bills place limitations on dogs being outdoors and unattended when the weather is outside a certain temperature range.
HB 81 and SB 122 are reintroductions of legislation from last session that include exemptions requested by the American Kennel Club (AKC). AKC worked with the sponsors to have exemptions added to make sure the bills do not impact dog shows, field trials, rally, agility, hunting, and other humane activities. As such, the sponsors agreed to amend the bill to allow for an exemption “if the dog is lawfully and activity engaged in hunting; livestock herding; sledding; sporting; or training.”
AKC greatly appreciates these exemptions and thanks the sponsors for including them again in House Bill 81 and Senate Bill 122. AKC is asking the committee to consider further amendments to ensure all dogs are protected in all situations.
AKC encourages those who reside or participate in dog events in Maryland to contact the Committee members today, express your appreciation for the exemptions, and ask that they consider further amendments to address remaining concerns. Scroll down for contact information.
House Bill 81/Senate Bill 122 Summary:
- Defines “extreme weather conditions” to mean temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, or during an active weather warning issued by the National Weather Service.
- Defines a “suitable shelter” as a structure that (1) is properly ventilated; (2) has a solid floor that is raised off the ground at least two inches; (3) has a weatherproof roof; (4) has four walls, one of which contains a doorway; (5) has insulation or heating sufficient to allow a dog to maintain its normal body temperature; and (6) is suitable for the species, age, condition, size, and type of dog. It further defines what does not constitute suitable shelter (such as a crawl space, etc.)
Under these bills, a dog may not be left outside in temperatures outside the range listed unless a suitable shelter is provided.
AKC’s Request for Further Amendments:
In conversation with the sponsors, it was made clear that the temperature limits established by HB 81/SB 122 were not negotiable. AKC remains concerned that the bills fail to consider that some breeds thrive in temperatures outside these ranges. In addition, some dogs require a more moderate climate, and even 30 minutes in temperatures permitted under this proposal could jeopardize their health. AKC recommends that language be added that considers the age, breed, general health and condition of the dog and its ability to withstand the environment. This would allow the sponsors to keep the temperatures, but would also consider and protect the needs of various breeds, ages, and the general health of individual dogs.
Further, AKC recommends that “acclimation” be added to the list of exemptions. While we are pleased that the existing exemptions were included, many sportsmen and other trainers have noted that any time that a trained dog may be called upon to perform a specific task in potential adverse conditions (for example search and rescue), the dog must first be acclimated to those conditions. This avoids any potential harm that might result from performing the task without proper preparation.
What You Can Do:
Contact the committees prior to the hearings. Let them know you appreciate the current exemptions and respectfully ask that they consider the additional amendments mentioned above to protect all dogs, and allow for dogs to be acclimated for certain tasks:
House Bill 81- Contact the Maryland House Environment and Transportation Committee members prior to its hearing on Friday, January 15, 2021 at 11:00am
Click here for House Environment and Transportation Committee member contact information.
Senate Bill 122 – Contact the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee members ahead of its hearing on Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 11:00am.
Click here for Senate Judicial Proceedings 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.