ANNAPOLIS, Maryland (April 11, 2023) — As the 2023 legislative session rings to a close, animal advocates in Maryland will have a lot to celebrate. During this session the state became the first in the nation to make a dedicated investment in alternatives to animal research (SB560/HB626). Legislators also passed bills to reform the membership of Maryland’s Wildlife Advisory Commission to include biologists, wildlife protection advocates and outdoor recreationists, as well as hunters and farmers (SB320/HB188) and established core protections for pet-owners and their pets facing evictions (SB279/HB102).
“This year’s legislative session opened with an important question: would the new legislature and new governor continue the progress we saw in recent years advancing the humane agenda?” said Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, Maryland state director for the Humane Society of the United States. “As we approach the final hours of session, we can confidently say that the legislature and the new administration have demonstrated their commitment to fighting the big fights to end suffering for animals across Maryland.”
The legislature passed several additional reforms that will protect animals, including:
- Protecting bears by updating the State’s Black Bear Damage Restitution Fund to become a proactive tool to fund conflict avoidance open to residents and towns as well as farmers (SB310/HB378).
- Ensuring accountability for trappers by requiring that all traps are tagged with the license number for the trapper who set it (SB275/HB406).
- Supporting animal shelters by allowing clinical staff to administer rabies vaccines to shelter animals and requiring an expedited process for reciprocity for out of state veterinarians (SB390/HB325).
- Allocating $200,000 to the state’s lifesaving Spay/Neuter Fund
Advocates also noted the introduction this year of three key reforms that will remain the priority into 2024:
- Ending the use of one of the cruelest confinement practices for farm animals, the confinement of egg-laying hens in cages so small they can’t spread their wings (SB690).
- Prohibiting the use of animal testing where it isn’t required and ensuring stronger welfare standards until all testing has come to an end (SB495).
- Advancing solutions to address the shortage of affordable housing that allows families dealing with housing insecurity to keep their pets (SB72/HB1039).
“We are grateful for the hard work of our sponsors and legislative leadership in advancing this suite of humane bills that will improve outcomes for companion animals, wildlife and animals in research,” noted Bevan-Dangel. “This session also saw the launch of critical animal welfare campaigns that we are excited to continue advancing in 2024.”
- Emily Snow Ehrhorn