In response to public health concerns associated with COVID-19, the Maryland Legislature has ended the 2020 session and will not reconvene until January 13, 2021.
As a result of the House and Senate working hurriedly to move numerous bills and pass a budget, many bills did not make it to final passage. Three of those unsuccessful bills were ones that were greatly improved as a result of positive amendments, as mentioned in a previous alert:
- Senate Bill 625 – Originally, this bill sought to regulate the Internet sales of animals by pet stores. The original language concerned many who use Facebook or other internet “brag” pages to showcase their dogs and puppies for sale. As amended, all references to Internet sales were removed. It further clarified that a pet store does not include situations where the animals are sold at establishments where they were bred, and the buyer and seller are both present during the sale or transfer. The new language would have clarified for the first time in Maryland law that home-based breeders are not considered retail pet stores.
Give the interest the sponsor has expressed in getting this bill passed, AKC GR believes this bill will likely be reintroduced next session. If this is the case, AKC will be requesting that it include the amendments mentioned above.
- House Bill 406 – Originally, this bill and its companion, Senate Bill 627 which never left committee, sought to address the issue of unattended dogs extreme weather conditions. It further defined those conditions and required that no dog could be tethered in those conditions for more than 30 minutes if the dog is left unattended and without access to suitable shelter as defined in the bill. Given the language in the bill, questions about the meaning of unattended as used in the bill and the requirement for access to “suitable shelter,” AKC was concerned that the legislation could impact dog shows, field trials, rally, agility, hunting, and other activities. As such, the sponsor agreed to amend the bill allow for an exemption “if the dog is lawfully and activity engaged in hunting; livestock herding; sledding; sporting; or training.”
The sponsor will be reintroducing this bill next session, and AKC believes it will include the exemption language. The sponsor has expressed a willingness to work with the AKC, and we look forward to talking with her further in the interim about this legislation.
- House Bill 863 – As introduced, this bill sought to ban organized “hunting or killing contests”, with the intent to stop certain activities such as coyote hunting contest. AKC and sportsmen groups expressed concerns that the broad wording could impact humane, legitimate hunting, field trial, and similar events. The bill was amended to remove the word “hunting”, and to further clarify that the bill does not include “lawful dog training or dog performance competitions.” The bill passed the House, but was ultimately held in the Senate.
AKC was informed by the sponsor that given the overwhelming support of the final amended version of the bill, it will be the introduced version next session.
With the session coming to a close, AKC Government Relations would like to thank all the Responsible Dog Owners of Maryland (RDO-MD) and all those who took the time to reach out to their local senator or delegate to advocate for sensible legislation that protects the health, safety and welfare of dogs and their responsible owners. Over the next several months, AKC GR looks forward to continuing its outreach to Maryland lawmakers, and also to connecting with clubs and breeders in the state to discuss how we can work together on behalf of dogs in Maryland.
For more information on how you can get involved in Maryland, contact AKC GR Legislative Analyst/Community Outreach Coordinator Charley Hall at Charles.Hall@akc.org.