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Md. Passes Pet Protection Law

40th State to Allow Pet Trusts; Other Important Animal Protection Measures Left Unfinished

The Humane Society of the United States

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — At the close of the 2009 Maryland legislative session, The Humane Society of the United States applauded the Maryland General Assembly for passing H.B. 149, which allows the creation of trusts for the care of animals. The bill was introduced by Delegate Wade Kach, R-5B, and co-sponsored by Delegate John Olszewski, D-6. The bill passed by wide margins in the House of Delegates and Senate, and was signed into law by Gov. O'Malley on April 14.

"For thousands of Marylanders who, like me, consider their pets akin to family members, this legislation offers piece of mind that the arrangements we make for our animals will be legally binding," said Delegate Kach after the bill was approved by the House of Delegates in February.

Thirty-nine other states and the District of Columbia allow pet owners to establish trusts to ensure the lifelong care of their companion animals. As part of their estate planning in these jurisdictions, individuals can assign a permanent guardian for their pets and make provisions for veterinary care, food, water and companionship. H.B. 149 would create peace of mind for Maryland pet owners and — in a nation that still euthanizes 3 to 4 million dogs and cats each year for lack of homes — a vital safety net for their pets. 

"We are grateful to Maryland lawmakers for passing  this compassionate and common sense piece of legislation," said Michael Markarian, executive vice president of The HSUS. "Marylanders care about their pets and deserve to be able to provide for their future. This new law will encourage personal preparedness to make sure pets are cared for, and will help to alleviate the government burden of sheltering and euthanizing homeless animals."

Unfortunately, several other important animal protection bills introduced this session did not make it through to final passage. A bill to require complete labeling of garments containing animal fur, introduced by Delegate Tom Hucker, D-20, and Sen. Catherine Pugh, D-40, passed the Senate overwhelmingly but died in a House committee on the last day of the session. Legislation to strengthen protections for dogs at puppy mills was also introduced by Delegate Michael Smigiel, R-36, and Sen. Lisa Gladden, D-41. The HSUS hopes that legislators will revisit these issues next year.

"It's shameful that the Maryland Retailers Association and a handful of lawmakers tried to block consumers from knowing what type of fur they are buying," added Markarian. "Maryland shoppers will be left in the dark for another year because the House of Delegates failed to act, and dog fur will continue to be sold freely in the Free State."


The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.