by Nick Mays
DOG LEGISLATION planned for the State of Maryland, USA which could have set the standard for sensible, non-breed specific dog laws around the world was last week killed by the Maryland Judiciary Committee before it even made it to the floor of the State Parliament for discussion and voting.
The public meeting and discussion of House Bill HB562 took place on February 19th in Annapolis, where the Bill received widespread public and political support. The volume of e-mails ands worldwide support for the non-BSL law was noted and the Bill was referred onwards to the Judiciary Committee for further discussion.
It has created a great deal of interest both within Maryland and other US States, as well as throughout the world. Hundreds of e-mails have been sent to Charles Boutin and his fellow delegates who support the Bill by dog owners and anti-BSL campaigners worldwide, offering their support for the Bill.
The hearing was scheduled for 1pm in front of the Judiciary Committee. Although the turnout for the proposed dangerous dog law and another Bill seeking prohibitions on dog fighting and cock fighting werent great, the people who did attend were mostly well-spoken and represented organisations. (Rather than mostly private citizens or just dog owners).
Amongst these were the Maryland Veterinary Association, the Carroll County shelter and also the American Dog Owners Association (ADOA), represented by Adrianne Lefkowitz.
the Committee decided afterwards that the Bill should not
be approved, although no reason for this decision was given
nor, under Maryland legislative rules, needs to be given.
Delegate Charles Boutins aide, A.J. de Rosset told OUR DOGS: I guess you can understand the shock that the delegate and I both felt when we learned of the unfavourable report.
Neither one of us could understand how a bill with overwhelming support and no opposition could fail. It was then at that time that we began trying to resuscitate the bill by working to get (admittedly belated) media coverage here in the State of Maryland. As of now, there has been no official reason stated [by the Judiciary Committee] for the unfavourable report, and any reasons I could give you would be no better than rumour or speculation.
There was no opposition for the Dangerous Dog bill, and all questions posed to the Delegate were answered. The unfavourable report has virtually killed the bill, but Delegate Boutin is still working to possibly bring the bill to the floor. At the very least, we are now working to better inform the citizens of this state on the importance of this bill so that it will easily pass through the General Assembly next year.
What ever you can do to help this bill along would be greatly appreciated, and the support of so many people from around the world is both welcomed and appreciated.
Councillor Charles Boutin, the sponsor of the Bill told OUR DOGS: "I am extremely encouraged by the largely positive response which the Bill has received, both here in Maryland and further afield.
"When it was drafted, my colleagues and I had no idea that it could possibly be held up as a worldwide example a legialstion to counter BSL, but it is extremely gratifying to know that it is so widely approved.
"Now we must hope that the Bill passes through the legislative programme and becomes law.
There have been too many bad laws against dogs, which persecutes whole breeds unneccesdarily. It is time there was a law which not only protects the welfare of human beings, but that of dogs also."