Two new Maryland laws that could impact dog owners are now in effect.
The first requires that dogs left unattended in extreme weather have suitable shelter. The other addresses “Cost of Animal Care” and requires individuals whose animals have been seized due to charges of cruelty or severe neglect to pay the cost of caring for the animals while the case is pending.
Both laws contain amendments negotiated by AKC Government Relations (AKC GR). For questions or feedback regarding the new laws, see the contact information below.
House Bill 16/Senate Bill 44 (Chapter 181/182) – Keeping Dogs Outdoors
HB 16/SB 44 prohibits a person from leaving a dog outside and unattended for longer than 30 minutes without access to specified shelter/shade during certain extreme weather conditions or heat (meaning temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit or conditions during an active weather warning or advisory issued by the National Weather Service and temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit).
AKC was successful in getting exemptions included for dogs lawfully and actively engaged in (1) hunting; (2) livestock herding or guarding; (3) sledding; (4) sporting, which means any athletic, skill, obedience, or other competition intended for the participation of dogs; or (5) training.
Details regarding the law can be find in this previous alert.
While AKC supports laws that seek to protect all dogs, the use of one-size fits all legislation does not protect all dogs and oftentimes have negative impacts both dogs and their responsible dog owners. The penalties associated with new law will be civil in nature, and AKC GR remains concerned about how it will be enforced especially in those situations involving dogs that can thrive outside the temperatures contained in the law.
AKC GR asks for assistance in monitoring how the new law is enforced to determine if changes are needed to ensure that all dogs are truly protected from adverse weather conditions based on the ability of the individual dog to handle the conditions.
House Bill 1062 (Chapter 180) – Costs of care for animals seized on suspicion of cruelty
HB 1062 establishes procedures to authorize the recovery of the costs of care from the owner or custodian of a seized animal held during an animal cruelty allegation and trial. Details on the new law can be found in this previous alert.
AKC agrees that those convicted of animal cruelty should be held accountable, including paying for the costs of caring for the animals they mistreated. However, 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.
After AKC’s discussions with the sponsor, the bill was amended to limit the costs per day and require that costs be itemized. In addition, if the owner is found not guilty, the animals must be returned, and the owner is entitled to the return of the money paid for care. However, it does not protect the ownership rights of an innocent person who is unable to pay the cost.
AKC will continue to monitor the implementation of these new laws and asks for your feedback. For questions or information on the new laws, and on how you can become more involved in the legislative process in Maryland, contact AKC GR Legislative Analyst/Community Outreach Coordinator Charley Hall at Charles.Hall@akc.org.