April 10, 2012
The HSUS Applauds Maryland General Assembly for Legislative Advances
Lawmakers Failed to Enact Policies on Shark Finning, Animal Cruelty
The Maryland General Assembly adjourned on Monday after passing three meaningful laws to protect animals and considering several other important measures. Lawmakers approved bills to protect consumers who purchase sick puppies from pet stores, to strengthen the Department of Natural Resources’ ability to crack down on illegal poaching, and to extend the task force established in 2011 to study spay and neuter funding for the state. The Humane Society of the United States commends Maryland’s lawmakers for passing these important measures to increase protections for the state’s animals.
“The Humane Society of the United States is pleased by several meaningful outcomes for animals in Maryland’s legislative session, and we especially thank lawmakers for addressing the problem of puppy mills by protecting consumers who buy puppies from pet stores,” said Tami Santelli, Maryland senior state director for The Humane Society of the United States. “This law is critical because the majority of pet store puppies come from large-scale commercial dog breeding operations, but pet stores often make misleading claims about the origin of puppies they sell. Maryland consumers deserve a straight answer and should be entitled to a remedy if they unknowingly purchase a sick puppy.”
H.B. 131, introduced by Del. Nic Kipke, R-Anne Arundel, and S.B. 317, introduced by Sen. Catherine Pugh, D-Baltimore City, require pet stores to disclose basic information about the origin of the puppies they sell, and enable people who purchase a sick puppy from a pet store to receive a refund for veterinary expenses up to the purchase price of the puppy. Both bills passed by overwhelming bipartisan votes and now await Gov. Martin O’Malley’s signature.
The General Assembly also passed H.B. 1052, introduced by Delegates Wendell Beitzel, R-Allegany, Garrett and Washington and Barbara Frush, D-Anne Arundel and Prince George’s. This legislation gives the Maryland Department of Natural Resources the ability to suspend or revoke hunting licenses and privileges for convicted poachers. Legislation to extend the task force that was established last year to study ways to increase funding for state spay and neuter programs also passed. S.B. 609 and H.B. 936 were introduced by Sen. Joanne Benson, D-Prince George’s, and Del. Barbara Frush, D-Anne Arundel and Prince George’s. These bills also await final approval by Gov. O’Malley.
Unfortunately, important legislation to protect sharks and hold convicted animal abusers accountable for the costs of caring for their animal victims failed to pass before the General Assembly adjourned. S.B. 465 and H.B. 393, introduced by Sen. Brian Frosh, D-Montgomery and Del. Eric Luedtke, D-Montgomery, would have cut off the market for shark fins in Maryland, thus protecting sharks from this inhumane practice and supporting the health of our oceans and the Chesapeake Bay. The legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 42-4, but stalled in the House of Delegates.
Lawmakers also considered several bills to require convicted animal abusers to reimburse county animal control for the costs of caring for animals during the course of a criminal trial. Currently, nothing in Maryland law requires that those costs be covered by animal abusers, and localities are often stuck absorbing tens of thousands of dollars in costs for caring for the animals. One of these bills passed unanimously in the Senate, but died in the House Judiciary Committee without even receiving a vote.
FACTS ON PUPPY MILLS
• Puppy mills are large-scale commercial breeding facilities that often neglect the basic health and welfare of the dogs in their care.
• The breeding dogs in puppy mills are often confined to small cages for years on end, with little or no socialization, protection from the elements, exercise or veterinary care, solely to provide puppies for the pet trade.
• Maryland is now the 19th state to pass a puppy lemon law.
• The HSUS estimates that there are approximately 10,000 puppy mills in the U.S.
• For more information about how to buy a puppy, please see humanesociety.org/puppy.
FACTS ON POACHING
• It is estimated that tens of millions of wild animals are poached annually, but wildlife officials guess that as few as one percent of poached animals come to their attention.
• Maryland Natural Resources Police work tirelessly to enforce poaching laws, but they have just 151 officers to patrol the entire state.
• The battle to get poaching under control requires penalties that deter these crimes before they happen. Poachers who know that their hunting license could be suspended will think twice before hunting illegally.
HSUS Media Contact: Jordan Crump: 301-548-7793, email@example.com