Sporting Dog Owners’ Rights at Risk in Maryland

Contact: Joe Mullin, Assistant Manager, Northeastern States

  • On January 19, the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee convened for a hearing on several policies including Senate Bill 44 (SB44) – legislation that would unreasonably limit the amount of time an owner authorizes its dog to spend outside; acclimating to the weather conditions it will likely experience while pursuing game in the field.
  • This legislation makes exceptions for dogs actively engaged in hunting, sporting, or training, but it falls short in considering the wide range of dog breeds that excel in adverse weather conditions and rely on time housed outdoors in order to perform well in the field.
  • The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation submitted written testimony in opposition to this bill, highlighting the crucial roles that dogs play in the sporting community.

Why It Matters: There is no denying the fact that dogs are an integral part of many of our nation’s sporting pursuits. From tracking big game to pointing, flushing, and retrieving downed fowl on a variety of landscapes, our four-legged friends play an irreplaceable part in the field and on the water. In many cases, due to the nature of the various hunting seasons, sportsmen and women take their dogs afield in adverse weather situations, such as intense cold. Therefore, it is crucial that dog owners have the authority to provide opportunities for their dogs to acclimate to the temperatures that they will face in the field or while working, thus preventing injuries and shock to the body.

On January 19, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation submitted a written letter of opposition to the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee regarding Senate Bill 44 (SB44). If enacted, this legislation would curtail the amount of time sportsmen and women keep their dogs “outside and unattended” in certain weather conditions.

The issue of fighting excessively restrictive kennel legislation in the Northeast has been an ongoing theme for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), as well as for other like-minded in-state and national organizations. While SB44 makes certain carveouts for dogs actively engaged in hunting, livestock herding or guarding, sledding, sporting, and training, it makes no exception to allow owners to leave those special purpose dogs outside to become more acclimated to the temperatures they will face in the field or while working. When a dog’s adaptability to these conditions is lessened because of increased time spent indoors, it is more likely to experience a shock to its system when it is exposed to a cold morning in the duck blind, cutting through ice, or wading through chest-high water.

CSF thanks those who have voiced their opposition to restrictive kennel legislation such as SB44 – both in Maryland and across the nation. Additional updates on this issue will be provided as they are made available.

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