NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) applauds Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley for signing three animal-friendly bills during the 2013 legislative session. The new laws will establish a statewide spay/neuter fund, close a loophole in Maryland’s animal fighting law by adding a prohibition on "baiting," and prohibit the sale and possession of shark fins. The spay/neuter legislation was signed today, while the other two were signed into law soon after the session ended.
"Enactment of this innovative spay/neuter program is one of the most important victories for animals in many years in any state," said Ann Church, vice president of state affairs for the ASPCA. "Maryland legislators recognized that the people who care most about animals, pet owners, are also the ones who can and want to help prevent future suffering and also bring down the number of animals euthanized in shelters each year. This small fee on pet food will have almost no effect on pet owners, but a huge impact on the number of homeless animals. SB 820/HB 767 should be used as a model for other states to adopt similar provisions, and we thank Governor O'Malley for signing all these bills into law."
The Maryland Legislature passed the following humane measures in 2013:
- Senate Bill 820/House Bill 767, sponsored by Sen. Joanne Benson (D-24) and Del. Barbara Frush (D-21), establishes one of the most robustly funded statewide spay/neuter programs in the country to address the state’s pet overpopulation problem. The new program will be funded by a $100 surcharge on commercial pet food brands registered in the state and is expected to generate approximately $1 million each year by 2016. The law will become effective October 1, 2013.
- House Bill 542/Senate Bill 360, sponsored by Del. Tony McConkey (R-33A) and Sen. Bryan Simonaire (R-31), closes a loophole in Maryland’s animal fighting law by adding a specific prohibition on "baiting" – using a dog to train or test a fighting dog. This bill was introduced in response to "Molly," an abused pit bull found in Baltimore City, who was used as a bait dog.
- Senate Bill 592/House Bill 1148, sponsored by Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-16) and Del. Eric G. Luedtke (D-14), prohibits the sale and possession of shark fins. This bill narrowly missed passage in 2012.
"Governor O'Malley and state legislators have demonstrated their commitment to passing laws to protect both the people and animals in Maryland," added Church. "We applaud the many local animal shelters and humane groups who worked together to make this new program a reality."
For more information on the ASPCA and to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, please visit www.aspca.org.