THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES PRAISES MARYLAND LAWMAKERS FOR PASSING ANIMAL PROTECTION LEGISLATION INTO LAW
WASHINGTON (May 16, 2006) – The Humane Society of the United States today commended Maryland lawmakers for enacting new legislation to prohibit private ownership of dangerous wild animals as pets. Governor Robert Ehrlich signed three animal welfare bills today, including measures to restrict the private ownership of dangerous wild animals, to strengthen the state’s animal cruelty law and to enact a Howard County ban on the use of inhumane and indiscriminate steel-jawed leghold traps.
The exotic pets legislation, H.B. 704, was sponsored by Delegate Pauline Menes (D-21) and passed the legislature with strong bipartisan support. The bill prohibits the possession of wild and exotic animals as pets, including lions, tigers, chimpanzees, monkeys, and caimans (in the crocodile family). People who currently have these animals will be able to keep them if they notify the local animal control authority. The bill does not apply to zoos, research facilities, or wildlife sanctuaries. H.B. 704 was endorsed by a broad coalition of organizations including the Jane Goodall Institute, the Salisbury Zoo, Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, Feld Entertainment, local law enforcement agencies, and the statewide association of animal control workers and humane societies.
"The Humane Society of the United States salutes Maryland public officials for moving decisively to protect public safety and promote animal welfare," said Michael Markarian, executive vice president for The HSUS. "Attacks from dangerous exotic animals can be lethal, and captive animals such as primates are notorious for harboring deadly diseases. Wild animals belong in the wild, not in basements and backyard cages."
Today, the governor also signed H.B. 11, sponsored by Delegate Murray Levy (D-28), which prohibits a person from inflicting unnecessary suffering or pain on an animal regardless of whether the animal belongs to them or not. The current misdemeanor animal cruelty code leaves a gap in the law if the animal doesn’t belong to the individual inflicting the cruelty.
And finally, the governor signed H.B. 465, which was sponsored by the Howard County Delegation. This bill adds Howard County to the list of Maryland counties that prohibit the use of steel-jawed leghold traps except under certain circumstances. These bone-crushing traps are inhumane and indiscriminate, routinely killing wildlife, endangered species, and even family pets.
"Maryland lawmakers are to be commended for enacting crucial laws to prevent animals from cruelty and abuse," Markarian said. "The anti-cruelty laws of a state are a reflection of our basic values and attitudes toward animals, and this collection of bills is a measurable step forward for Maryland."
Previously this session, the legislature passed and the governor signed a series of other animal welfare bills: H.B. 495 dealing with the improper transport of horses and S.B. 521 and H.B. 968 to prohibit "Internet hunting" in which people shoot live animals by remote computer.
Media Contact: Polly Shannon, 301-721-6440, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization with more than 9.5 million members and constituents, 208,700 in Maryland. The HSUS is a mainstream voice for animals, with active programs in companion animals, disaster preparedness and response, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammals, animals in research, equine protection, and farm animal welfare. The HSUS protects all animals through education, investigation, litigation, legislation, advocacy and field work. The nonprofit organization is based in Washington and has field representatives and offices across the country. On the web at www.hsus.org.
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