March 18, 2011
Maryland House of Delegates Approves Kennel Licensing Bill
The Humane Society of the United States applauds the Maryland House of Delegates for passing legislation to take a first step towards addressing the issue of puppy mills in Maryland. House Bill 940, sponsored by Del. Tom Hucker, D-Montgomery, would require commercial dog breeders to be licensed by the counties and require the counties to report licensing information once a year to the state. This measure passed overwhelmingly in the house. Similar legislation, S.B. 839, was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Lisa Gladden, D-Baltimore City.
“House Bill 940 is especially important in Maryland, because it is one of few states that currently have no statewide licensing and inspection regulations for commercial dog breeders,” said Melanie Kahn, director of the Puppy Mills campaign for The HSUS. “This bill will provide critical information to the state and help track the puppy mill problem here in Maryland.”
Puppy mills are large-scale commercial dog breeding operations that mass-produce puppies for sale in pet stores and over the Internet. Focused solely on making a profit, these facilities keep dogs in crowded, filthy conditions where they receive little or no socialization, affection or exercise. Because Maryland has no statewide laws regulating puppy mills—and because puppy mills often operate under the radar—there has been no way to understand the scope of this problem in Maryland. A recent fire on a property in Calvert County that reportedly housed more than 100 animals indicates that such large-scale breeding facilities do exist in Maryland.
"Finally, the House of Delegates has taken action to monitor puppy mills and large commercial dog breeders in Maryland,” said Del. Hucker. “Too often, puppy mills go untaxed and unregistered—and, if allowed to deteriorate—can cost localities hundreds of thousands of dollars to clean up. Hopefully, the Senate will pass this bill quickly as well."
Girl Scout Troop 6811, from Sandy Spring, Md., also lobbied in support of the bill, testifying before House and Senate committees to speak out against puppy mills. The scouts also presented their testimony to Governor O’Malley, who praised them for their efforts. The fourth and fifth grade girls undertook a project on shelter pets and related issues for their Bronze Award project. Photos of the girl scouts testifying are available upon request. H.B. 940 and S.B. 839 now await action in the Maryland Senate. The Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee gave S.B. 839 a favorable vote yesterday.
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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.