ANNAPOLIS, Md.—As the Maryland legislative session comes to an end, animal advocates celebrate the passage of critical reforms. Most notably, during this session Maryland became the fifth state to prohibit the use of animals in cosmetics testing, the eighth state to ban cruel wildlife killing contests and the sixth state to protect wildlife by banning the intentional release of balloons.

“Maryland had an opportunity to be a leader and end some of the cruelest practices like animal cosmetics testing and wildlife killing contests,” said Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, Maryland state director for the Humane Society of the United States. “We are grateful that our legislature took action on these critical reforms to protect all animals.”

The legislature also passed several reforms that will protect companion animals, including:

  • Establishing education and training requirements for animal control officers (SB159/HB281).
  • Creating stronger penalties for intentionally harming or killing a service animal (SB607/HB234).
  • Providing for the veterinary care of retired law enforcement K-9s (SB156).

Important work remains for the 2022 session, particularly around protecting companion animals. “We are deeply disappointed that the Senate failed to pass HB81, a life-saving bill that would have established common sense requirements for dogs to have adequate shelter in freezing cold or extreme heat,” said Bevan-Dangel.  

Legislation that would have provided a legal process so that owners charged with cruelty may be required to pay the cost of caring for their seized animals, SB760/HB1080, did not receive a vote in either chamber despite overwhelming support. A bill to extend the sunset on the Spay/Neuter Fund for another 10 years, HB146, also failed to move in the Senate.

“While it is clear that we have more work to do next year, I’m pleased with the response from the legislature on several important bills and thank advocates and partners from the Eastern Shore to the mountains of Western Maryland for helping to make Maryland a more humane state for all of our residents,” said Bevan-Dangel.

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