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February 23, 2012

Animal Advocates Lobby Maryland Lawmakers for Animal Welfare Legislation

Citizens from across Maryland participating in Humane Lobby Day 2012 met with lawmakers in Annapolis to urge them to support animal protection legislation. Specifically, participants focused on bills to provide consumers with more information about the sources of puppies sold in pet stores, to require convicted animal abusers to pay the costs of caring for their animals during the time of their trials, and to stop the cruel trade in shark fins. The Humane Society of the United States, ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), and Maryland Votes for Animals are sponsoring Humane Lobby Day.

“Last year was an unprecedented year in the Maryland General Assembly, with six significant bills passed to protect animals,” said Tami Santelli, Maryland senior state director for The HSUS. “We are thrilled to be here with so many animal advocates from across the state and some of the true champions for animals in the General Assembly. We look forward to continuing the momentum from last year with even stronger laws for animals in Maryland.”

“It’s hard to resist those cute puppies playing in the pet store windows, but most people have no idea where they come from,” said Ann Church, ASPCA vice president of state affairs. “H.B. 131/S.B. 317 will educate consumers so they do not unknowingly purchase a dog from a puppy mill and perpetuate animal suffering. Maryland residents care about the humane treatment of animals, and support legislation that would help fight the inherently cruel puppy mill industry.”

Humane Lobby Day attendees urged their legislators to support the following legislation:

  • H.B. 131/S.B. 317, sponsored by Del. Nic Kipke, R-District 31, and Sen. Catherine Pugh, D-District 40, would crack down on puppy mills by requiring retail pet stores to disclose information about the puppies they sell and provide consumers with remedies if they unknowingly buy a sick puppy from a pet store.
  • H.B. 484/S.B. 203 would authorize a court to order a defendant convicted of animal cruelty to pay all reasonable costs incurred in removing, housing, treating, or euthanizing a confiscated animal. The legislation is sponsored by Del. Luiz Simmons, D-District 17, and Sen. Bobby Zirkin, D-District 11, and H.B. 336/S.B. 445, sponsored by Del. Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, R-District 37, and Sen. Richard Colburn, R-District 37,
  • H.B. 393/S.B. 465, sponsored by Del. Eric Luedtke, D-District 14, and Sen. Brian Frosh, D-District 16, would ban the sale, trade or possession of shark fins in Maryland. Unsustainable fishing methods like shark finning, which involves slicing off the fin of a shark and discarding the animal at sea to drown or bleed to death, have led to declines by as much as 90 percent in some shark populations in recent decades.

The HSUS also presented its Maryland Humane State Legislator awards at Thursday’s Humane Lobby Day event. Each year The HSUS recognizes state legislators across the country who have initiated path-breaking animal protection legislation and demonstrably advanced reform in the policy-making arena. Del. Jeff Waldstreicher, D-District 18, and Sen. Jim Robey, D-District 13, will be recognized for sponsoring a bill that passed in the 2011 session that allows courts to prohibit someone convicted of animal cruelty from owning animals as a term of probation.

Del. Tom Hucker, D-District 20, and Sen. Lisa Gladden, D-District 41, will also be recognized for introducing legislation that finally closed a loophole that previously allowed commercial dog breeders to operate without a license. This legislation, which passed last year, requires commercial dog breeders to be licensed by the county in which they operate, and requires counties to report basic information about these commercial breeders once a year to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. 

Maryland ranks 15th  in The HSUS’ 2011 state animal protection rankings, which grades each state  based on a wide range of animal protection laws dealing with pets, animal cruelty and fighting, wildlife, animals in research, horses and farm animals. The state gained points for its strong laws governing the private ownership of dangerous exotic animals as pets and protection for companion animals.

 

Media Contacts:

HSUS: Jordan Crump, 240-654-2964, jcrump@humanesociety.org

ASPCA: Rebecca Goldrick: 646-291-4582, rebecca.goldrick@aspca.org

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