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February 4, 2019

On Thursday, February 7, the Maryland House Judiciary Committee will be considering a bill to create an animal abuse registry in Maryland.

Under House Bill 131, those convicted of cruelty offenses would be required to register with the sheriff’s office in their county of residence.  This includes within 7 days of a person establishing a temporary or permanent residence in the state or applying for a driver’s license.

Further, all breeders and pet stores would be required to determine whether the person seeking to purchase an animal appears on the state registry.  Animal shelters are exempt from this requirement.

A person’s name will remain on the registry for 15 years, unless they are acquitted, or the court determines the person does not need to register.  The length of time a person remains on the registry extends for each subsequent conviction.

The court may consider circumstances, and may decide a person is not required to register if they determine the person is not likely to commit another cruelty offense and the person is not a danger to animals or the public.

The AKC is generally concerned that that abuse registries are very difficult to enforce and may provide a false sense of security.  For example, an individual convicted of animal cruelty could easily evade tracking by providing sellers with fake or altered names, or by not providing updated addresses.  In addition, no evidence exists to show that animal abuse registries reduce the rates of second or subsequent offenses or of deterring other potential animal cruelty violators.

What You Can Do:

Those who wish to comment on House Bill 131 may contact the House Environment and Transportation Committee prior to the hearing on Thursday, February 7.  Visit the committee web page for contact information for the full committee.