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Legislative Synopsis for
by James B. Reed,
The Legislative session
closed this year with a few unexpected results:
House Bill 78 (HB 78)
was proposed as an emergency bill to address the current
ruling in the Maryland Court of Appeals (Tracey v.
Solesky) labeling all pit bull dogs as inherently
dangerous. The intent of the bill was to negate the
court ruling by creating a rebuttable presumption that
an owner of any breed of dog knew or should have known
that the dog had vicious or dangerous propensities, that
is, the dog would be considered dangerous until proven
otherwise to the court. Although this bill passed the
House of Representatives it failed to pass the Senate as
Senate Bill 160 (SB 160) before adjournment in April.
Much public disappointment
exists regarding the impact of the judicial ruling on
the pit bull breed in Maryland since owners of purebred
pit bulls and landlords of tenants who own purebred pit
bulls are made strictly liable for the actions of those
dogs. We expect to see this issue again in the 2014
January session. The MVMA will continue to support
legislative action against breed-specific court rulings.
The MVMA will also continue to monitor for any liability
to veterinarians that may occur secondary to legislation
in this area.
House Bill 767 and
the corresponding Senate Bill 820 were passed,
creating a special, non-lapsing Spay/Neuter fund
supported by fees collected from non-agricultural pet
food sold in Maryland. Last minute amendments withdrew
the proposed voucher programs, substituting a grant
program to continue support for existing services and
facilities. This bill was supported by the MVMA and the
Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.
Senate Bill 520 was
introduced early in the session seeking to prohibit use
of antimicrobials in commercial animal food and drinking
water for non-therapeutic use and in the absence of
disease diagnosed by a veterinarian. This bill never
made it out of committee for vote. The MVMA collaborated
with AVMA legislative services to oppose this proposal.
The Maryland General
Assembly Session will reconvene in January 2014. The
MVMA’s lobbyist, William Erskine, will keep the
Legislative Committee aware of proposed bills in both
the House of Representatives and the Senate.
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