The Maryland House Environment and Transportation Committee held a hearing on Wednesday, February 26, 2020, on House Bill 406, which seeks to define “extreme weather conditions” to mean temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, or an active weather warning issued by the National Weather Service. Under such conditions, the bill bans tethering for more than 30 minutes if the dog is left unattended and without access to “suitable shelter” (which is further defined in the bill).
The Natural Resources, Agriculture & Open Space Subcommittee will meet on Tuesday, March 3 to review and send recommendations back to the full Committee. AKC understands that no public testimony will be taken at the hearing, but we still encourage you to contact them in advance of this meeting.
In addition, Senate Bill 627, which is identical to HB 406, is scheduled for a hearing in the Judicial Proceedings Committee on March 10 at noon.
Scroll down for more information on contacting the committees.
As noted in our previous alert, the American Kennel Club (AKC) is concerned that the good intentions of this bill may cause many problems for responsible dog owners. As was evident from testimony by the sponsor and supporters at the hearing, the arbitrary temperature limits established by HB 406 does not reflect that certain breeds thrive outside in the proscribed temperatures. Also, there was little or no consideration to the fact that some breeds require a more moderate climate, and even 30 minutes in temperatures permitted under this proposal could jeopardize some dogs’ health. As currently written with the absolute temperature language, this bill could give legal cover to someone who leaves a dog out that is unsuited to handle temperatures anywhere close to either extreme.
Further, given that there is not a clear understanding of what “unattended” means, AKC is also concerned that these arbitrary restrictions coupled with the definition of “suitable shelter” could exclude dogs from dog shows, field trials, rally, agility, and other activities engaged in by responsible dog owners, such as hunting and the use of dogs for agricultural purposes.
AKC has recommended to the sponsor and Committee members that absolute temperature standards should be removed and replaced with language such as, “during any period in which a hazardous weather advisory or warning has been issued by the National Weather Service for the local area, no dog shall be left in conditions where the health and safety of the dog is at risk.” We have also suggested that since the definition of “unattended” is not clear as the bill is written, that an exemption for either training or working in conditions that are suitable for the breed, age, and general health of the dog. Absent such an exemption it is unclear how the bill will impact dogs used in animal husbandry, search and rescue, hunting and other recreational and sporting activities.
What You Can Do:
Contact the appropriate committees this week and ask them to not pass the bills without amendment. If you are a constituent or participate in dog events in Maryland, be sure to mention that when contacting the members:
Take Action on HB 406:
House Natural Resources, Agriculture & Open Space Subcommittee- Contact prior to meeting on Tuesday, March 3, express your concerns with the bill as introduced, and encourage the members to amend the bill prior to passage.
Del. Jim Gilchrist, Chair
Del. Jerry Clark
Del. Jay Jacobs
Del. Jay Jalisi
Del. Mary Lehman (Sponsor, HB 406)
Del. Charles J. Otto
Del. Sheila Ruth
Del. Dana Stein
Del. Melissa Wells
Take Action on SB 627:
Attend the Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing:
Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Bill Hearing
Tuesday, March 10, 2020
East Miller Senate Building, Room 2
Contact the Judicial Proceedings Committee prior to the hearing. Express your concerns with the bill as introduced and encourage the members to amend the bill prior to passage:
Sen. William Smith, Jr., Chair
Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher, Vice Chair
Sen. Jill Carter
Sen. Robert Cassilly
Sen. Shelly Hettleman
Sen. Michael Hough
Sen. Susan Lee, House Majority Whip
Sen. Justin Ready
Sen. Charles Sydnor, III
Sen. Chris West
Sen. Ronald Young
AKC Government Relations and Responsible Dog Owners–Maryland will continue to closely monitor this bill and communicate our concerns to the members of the General Assembly. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.