A bill has been proposed in the Maryland General Assembly that would prohibit counties and municipalities from adopting any ordinance or law that determines dogs dangerous based on breed.
Introduced on January 24, 2014, House Bill 422, is sponsored by Delegates Hixson, Barye, Cardin, Frush, Kach, Kramer, McMillan, Stukes, Turner and Washington.
The bill, entitled Dogs – Discrimination Based on Breed, Type, or Heritage – Prohibited, sets forth as follows:
FOR the purpose of providing that a dog may not be determined to be potentially dangerous based solely on the breed, type, or heritage of the dog;
-establishing that a county or municipality may not enact a local law or adopt an ordinance that prohibits a person from owning, keeping, or harboring a dog of a specific breed, type, or heritage or take certain other actions based on the breed, type, or heritage of a dog;
-providing that a homeowner or tenant, regardless of the terms of certain documents, may not be prohibited from owning, keeping, or harboring a dog of a specific breed, type, or heritage or be denied occupancy in or evicted from residential property solely because the person owns, keeps, or harbors a dog of a specific breed, type, or heritage;
-providing for the construction of certain provisions of this Act; providing for the application of this Act; and generally relating to discrimination against certain dogs.
HB 422 has been assigned to the Judiciary Committee, and according to the legislative website, a committee hearing is scheduled for February 20, 2014 at 1:00 p.m.
MARYLAND RESIDENTS: Please reach out to your respective legislators, as well as the members of the Judiciary Committee, and ask them to support HB 422. Let them know that laws that target dogs based on their appearance rather than their behavior creates communities that are more vulnerable to dangerous dogs, not less. The passage of HB 422 would mean cities and counties, in drafting animal control ordinances, would have to tackle the root cause of dangerous dogs, irresponsible and reckless dog owners, rather than pass a blanket law that regulates all members of specific breeds. Far too many families in Maryland have been torn apart by breed discrimination. The passage of this bill will ensure responsible dog owners are not penalized and forced to give up their family companions because of discriminatory laws, policies or regulations.
Please remember to keep all communications with legislators polite and respectful. The manner in which we communicate with officials can and does make a difference.
Members of the Judiciary Committee:
Maryland residents can find their respective legislators here.