February 17, 2011
Animal Advocates Lobby Maryland Lawmakers for Animal Welfare Legislation
Animal advocates from across Maryland will rally at the statehouse in Annapolis to urge their legislators to enact stronger animal protection laws. The Humane Society of the United States and Maryland Votes for Animals are co-hosting the fourth-annual Maryland Humane Lobby Day. At the event, citizen advocates will lobby their legislators to prevent convicted animal abusers from owning animals for a specified time, promote funding of Maryland spay/neuter programs, and require licensing of large-scale commercial dog breeders.
“Today, animal advocates from all over Maryland will gather in Annapolis to make their voices heard for animals,” said Tami Santelli, director of state legislation for The Humane Society of the United States. “It’s also an exciting opportunity for the participants to meet other advocates in the state and begin to develop relationships with their elected officials.”
Maryland Humane Lobby Day 2011 participants will get tips on how to lobby their legislators and will discuss important animal protection legislation pending in the Maryland General Assembly. They also will have the opportunity to attend a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee regarding HB 294, legislation to strengthen Maryland’s animal cruelty laws in response to the tragic shooting of a Maryland dog, Bear-Bear, at a dog park in Severn, Md.
“Humane Lobby Day is the single most important thing a person can do to help animals in Maryland,” said Carolyn Kilborn, founder and chair of Maryland Votes for Animals. “It is critical for Maryland residents who care about animals to get engaged in passing stronger laws to protect them.”
The 2011 legislation includes:
Crack Down on Animal Cruelty - SB 115/HB 227, sponsored by Sen. James Robey, D-Howard, and Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher, D-Montgomery, will allow courts to prohibit convicted animal abusers from owning animals in the future. Animal abusers often have a history of violent behavior, and this provision will help protect animals in Maryland. Recent high profile animal cruelty cases in Maryland, such as the burning of the Baltimore dog, Phoenix, have illustrated the need for stronger animal cruelty laws.
Funding for Spay/Neuter Programs - HB 339/SB 639, sponsored by Delegate Barbara Frush, D-Anne Arundel, and Sen. Joanne Benson, D-Prince George’s, will establish a task force to study the possibility of setting up a statewide spay/neuter fund in Maryland. An estimated 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized each year in animal shelters across the country simply because there aren’t enough homes for them. This is the first step in an attempt to address the pet overpopulation crisis in Maryland.
Licensing of Commercial Dog-Breeders - HB 940/SB 839, sponsored by Delegate Tom Hucker, D-Montgomery, and Sen. Lisa Gladden, D-Baltimore City, requires large-scale commercial dog breeders be licensed by the county and requires counties to report this information to the state annually. Most states have statewide licensing systems in place for large-scale commercial dog-breeding facilities which are completely unregulated in Maryland. This modest bill will provide critical information about the scope of the puppy mill problem in the state
If passed, these important bills will represent a major step forward for animals in Maryland.
The Free State ranks 19th in The HSUS’ national survey of animal protection laws out of all states and the District of Columbia. While Maryland has strong laws banning exotic pet possession and protecting pets, it lacks laws promoting the spaying and neutering of animals adopted from shelters and regulating puppy mills.
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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.