The Maryland General Assembly has adjourned, and passed bills relating to keeping dogs outdoors and care of animals seized on suspicion of cruelty. While some positive amendments were included to protect responsible dog owners, some concerns still remain.
The governor could take action on these bills very soon. Those who reside or participate in dog events in Maryland are encouraged to contact Governor Hogan to respectfully express any concerns or comments you have on either or both HB 16 and HB 1602 as soon as possible:
Phone: (410) 974-3901
E-mail/Electronic Communication: Use the Governor’s online form
House Bill 16 – Keeping Dogs Outdoors
As mentioned in a previous alert, HB 16 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.
- “Extreme weather conditions” means temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit or conditions during an active weather warning or advisory issued by the National Weather Service.
- “Extreme heat means temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
- “Suitable shelter” means a structure that (1) is properly ventilated; (2) has a solid floor that allows a dog to remain reasonable dry; (3) has a weatherproof roof; (4) is enclosed with an entrance one side; (5) allows a dog to maintain its normal body temperature; and (6) is suitable for the species, age, condition, size, and type of dog.
- “Suitable shade” means an area completely protected from the direct sun that is accessible and fully covers a dog.
- The prohibition does not apply if the dog is 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.
AKC is grateful for the exemptions (which we and sportsmen groups negotiated with legislators). However, AKC still opposes the bill as passed because the determination of a dog’s health, safety and well-being should be based on the individual dog and its ability to handle the environment based on its breed (or mix thereof), its general health and condition, and its age and not an arbitrary number on a thermometer.
Further, Senate Bill 44 places many dogs at danger by ignoring the American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines for the protection of dogs in summer months by failing to require access to continuous shade for a dog outdoors during summer months so long as the temperature does not exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
House Bill 1062- Costs of care for animals seized on suspicion of cruelty
As mentioned in a previous alert, HB 1062 establishes procedures to authorize the recovery of the costs of care from the owner or custodian of a seized animal held while during an animal cruelty allegation and trial. Specifically, the bill:
- Requires the owner of a seized animal to file a petition for its return. This will allow for an authorized agent who is required to protect animals to file a petition with a court in the county where the seizure has occurred for the reasonable cost of caring for the animal, including provisions for food, water, shelter, and medical care. The cost of care for a seized animal will be limited to $15 per day per animal and necessary medical care as determined and by a licensed veterinarian and documented with invoices.
- Requires the authorized agent to present evidence that demonstrates the amount of reasonable care costs for the seized animal and that the seizure of the animal was warranted.
- Payment for reasonable costs of care by the owner or custodian does not prevent the provision necessary medical care, including euthanizing the seized animal if the written opinion of a local licensed veterinarian states it is necessary to alleviate the animal’s suffering.
- Bars the court from considering the owner or custodian’s ability to pay when considering the cost of care and filing fees unless the proceeding involves less than two animals and the only charges are neglect. The owner or custodian will be required to make payments as required by the order. If they fail to do so the animal shall be automatically forfeited, and the authorized agent shall obtain all rights to the animal.
AKC greatly appreciates that the bills clarify that if the owner is found not guilty, the animal must be returned to the owner and the owner is entitled to the return of all reasonable costs of care paid by the owner.
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.
As such, AKC oppose HB 1062 as it does not protect the property rights of an innocent person nor do we believe medical decisions should be made about the animal without the consultation of its owner.
AKC will continue to monitor these bills. For questions, contact AKC GR Legislative Analyst/Community Outreach Coordinator Charley Hall at Charles.Hall@akc.org.