Recently, the Maryland Task Force to Study Canine Breeding Facilities and Sourcing Standards released its final report to the Maryland Legislature.
While the report was not perfect, it did contain some important clarifications thanks to the participation of AKC Government Relations (AKC GR).
No specific legislation proposals were discussed by the Task Force, but GR recommendations did impact the Task Force’s findings and final report. Mainly, the Task Force report recommended evaluating existing guidelines when deciding on future legislation for the State of Maryland and using them as a minimum starting point.
AKC’s participation also helped foster a stronger relationship with the Maryland Department of Agriculture, Maryland Attorney General’s office, and other stakeholder groups, which will prove beneficial as we continue to advocate for positive legislation and regulations that benefit dogs and their responsible owners and breeders.
In the 2021 Maryland General Assembly session, Senate Bill 103 was introduced to address perceived concerns with certain Internet sales of pets. This was the latest in a series of bills introduced in recent years in Maryland to seek to address concerns expressed by some legislators to prevent the sale of animals from irresponsible or substandard breeders.
Prior to final passage in the House, SB 102 was amended to include the establishment of a Task Force to Study Canine Breeding Facilities and Sourcing Standards.
As established, the task force included a member from both the Senate and the House who served as co-chairs as well as numerous stakeholders including HSUS, rescue groups, USDA, and a representative from the American Kennel Club. By law, the task force’s mission was to study canine breeding facilities, including online sales of canines through breeding facilities with the final report due in December.
In conducting the study, the task force was required to:
- Review any achievements made in the past 20 years in combating substandard canine breeding practices.
- Identify and assess current efforts being taken in the State, other states, and the federal government to address substandard canine breeding practices.
- Identify nongovernmental comprehensive standards for canine breeding and tour facilities in full compliance with those standards.
- Determine if any gaps exist between current State, federal, and nongovernmental comprehensive standards for canine breeding.
- Recommend actions necessary to harmonize canine breeding standards in the State with those of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
- Recommend any legislative actions necessary to create standards for any person who sells or negotiates the sale or purchase of dogs in the State.
Summary of the Task Force and Final Report:
Meeting over the course of four months, the task force discussed the action items and heard topical presentations on U.S. Commercial Breeder Laws by the Humane Society of the United States; Animal Welfare Regulations by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS); as well as a presentation from the Maryland Department of Agriculture.
In addition, the American Kennel Club provided the task force with a comprehensive presentation entitled “Pet Sourcing Solutions: Ensuring the Best for All Dogs” which shared information on the AKC, AKC’s inspection program, and policy recommendations. As the only all-breed registry in the United States with a national kennel inspections program, it was shared that the program ensures compliance with AKC Care and Conditions Policy, creates teachable moments, and provides breeder education opportunities. AKC also recommended that the task force and state consider a comprehensive consumer protection law that would cover all points of sale, including breeders, retail stores, rescues, and shelters.
The final report includes some phrasing and other suggestions that AKC opposed or requested removal or clarification. However, the overall report also contains some positives. The report provides information on AKC’s inspections program, but also makes it clear that the AKC has no oversight of breeders who sell dogs who are registered with other registries in the U.S., or those who produce mixed breed “designer” dogs. Additionally, based on the presentations and questioning provided to the Task Force by USDA, HSUS, and AKC it was found that there are gaps between what is required and what is able to be enforced at the federal, state, and local levels of government.
AKC greatly appreciates inclusion on the task force and the opportunity to provide our expertise. AKC GR will continue to communicate with legislators regarding positive and effective solutions. We will also monitor for legislation that may come about as a result of the Task Force’s findings as well any legislation that could have an impact on responsible dog owners and breeders in Maryland.
Visit the AKC Legislative Action Center at www.akcgr.org for the latest alerts and information on bills in Maryland and around the country impacting dog owners and breeders.