ANNAPOLIS, Md.—Humane advocates descended upon Lawyers Mall on Valentine’s Day to “show the animals love.” The rally, organized by the Humane Society of the United States and other groups, demonstrated the strong, bipartisan public support for key animal welfare bills before the Maryland legislature this session.

"Today shows why Maryland has made historic progress advancing animal welfare reforms,” said Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. “Marylanders not only care, but we raise their voices and they take action. With passionate advocates, our amazing champions in the House and Senate and dedicated organizations, we not only fight for all animals, we win for the animals. This year we have some critical priorities, and today is the beginning of the work. Together we will fight until the last second on Sine Die to get these bills across the finish line."

Speakers shared their excitement that priority legislation to end the use of cruel confinement for egg-laying hens is already up for consideration in both chambers. SB193, which is sponsored by Sen. Karen Lewis Young of Frederick County, and HB357, sponsored by Del. Jennifer Terrasa of Howard County, would end one of the cruelest confinement practices—locking egg-laying hens in cages so small they can’t spread their wings.

“The use of battery cages causes massive suffering and increases food safety risks. Animals and Maryland families deserve better. Many other states and food retailers have adopted cage-free standards—Maryland should follow suit,” said Chris Holbein, HSUS director of public and corporate policy for Farm Animal Protection. 

Advocates highlighted three additional priority bills:

  • Prohibiting travelling acts from using bears, big cats, elephants and non-human primates in their performances in Maryland (SB547, Sen. Sarah Elfreth/HB379, Del. Sara Love).
  • Prohibiting the use of animal testing when suitable alternatives are available and ensuring stronger welfare standards until all testing has come to an end (SB761, Sen. Benjamin Kramer).
  • Expanding the availability of pet-friendly housing by requiring landlords who accept certain state funds to allow pets in their units (HB1179, Del. Dana Stein).

“Over the past few years, Maryland has made tremendous strides toward becoming a more humane state. We are excited to see that momentum continue this legislative session with the passage of bills that tackle some of the cruelest practices,” said Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, Maryland state director for the Humane Society of the United States.

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