The Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing January 19, 2022, at 1 p.m. on Senate Bill 44. The bill, which is the companion to House Bill 16 considered in a House committee yesterday, would place limitations on dogs being outdoors and unattended in certain weather conditions.
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. If you wish to submit written testimony, it must be received by the committee on Monday, January 17, between 10am and 3pm. Scroll down for more details and committee contact information.
When contacting the committee, consider sharing this one page document and/or this brief, animated video produced by the AKC that explains the importance of allowing for flexibility when considering dogs outdoors, and the problems with arbitrary temperature requirements that do not consider the needs of all dogs.
As with House Bill 16, SB 44 is a reintroduction of similar legislation from last session that includes exemptions requested by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in previous sessions. AKC worked to have exemptions added to make sure the bill does not impact dog shows, field trials, Rally, agility, hunting, and other humane activities. As such, the bill to allows for an exemption “if the dog is lawfully and actively engaged in hunting; livestock herding or guarding; sledding; sporting; or training.”
While this year’s bill does have some modifications from last session, AKC greatly appreciates that these exemptions continue to be included in this session’s version. AKC is asking the committee to consider further amendments to ensure all dogs are protected in all situations.
Senate Bill 44 Summary:
- Defines “extreme weather conditions” to mean temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit or conditions during an active weather warning or advisory 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 or a solid floor that is properly insulated; (3) has a weatherproof roof; (4) has four walls, one of which contains a doorway; (5) has insulation 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.).
- Defines “suitable shade” to mean an area completely protected from the direct sun that is accessible and fully covers a dog.
Under the bill and unless an exemption exists otherwise, a dog may not be left outside unattended longer than 30 minutes without continuous access to suitable shelter in “extreme weather conditions” as defined, or without continuous access to suitable shelter or suitable shade when temperatures are above 90 degrees Fahrenheit but below what is required for a heat advisory.
AKC’s Request for Further Amendments:
AKC remains concerned that the bill fails to consider that some breeds thrive in temperatures below 32 degrees or closer to 90 degrees while other 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 keep the temperatures as a general guide but would also consider and protect the needs of various breeds, ages, and the general health of individual dogs. As to access to “suitable shade,” AKC would encourage that such access be readily available during the warmer months, as opposed to requiring it only at temperatures above 90 degrees.
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 Maryland Senate Committee members prior to the 1:00 pm hearing Wednesday, January 19, 2022.
Let them know you appreciate the current exemptions in Senate Bill 44, 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.
Click here for Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee member contact information.
Submit testimony to the Committee: Witness sign-up and written testimony submission is only available Monday, January 17, 2022 from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm.
Instruction on submitting testimony for the hearing can be found here.
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.