HB336 …what are your thoughts

If passed, HB 336 requires abusers to pay animal care costs

(I believe this should be passed in every state)

Continue reading on Examiner.com If passed, HB 336 requires abusers to pay animal care costs – Philadelphia Animal Welfare | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/animal-welfare-in-philadelphia/hb-336#ixzz1p8JaP7i7

ANNAPOLIS — Those convicted of animal cruelty may soon have to pay for the veterinary care and housing of the animals they abused.

A bill cross-filed in the Maryland House and Senate is seeking an avenue to help animal control shelters and private rehabilitation clinics that can incur hundreds or even thousands of dollars recoup their expenses.

While some judges have it within their discretion to require those convicted to pay for food, medical care and other necessities, it is not yet written into the legal code.

“We’ve had an animal here since December and the court case is not scheduled until May, so we have to provide daily care for that animal, medical expenses and food,” said David Fitzgerald, executive director of the Wicomico County Humane Society, which has a contract with the county to act as animal control. “At times we encounter and accrue large fees from vets or animal hospitals … we are just trying to give the judges some directions to get reimbursed.”

While he isn’t sure how many times a year animals have to be removed in Wicomico County or how much money the county can incur in removing and taking care of those animals, Fitzgerald said, the law could help ease the amount of tax-payer money being used to rehabilitate abused or neglected animals.

“We just don’t think it’s fair that the taxpayers are absorbing those costs nor do we think it’s fair to ask for donations from the public that go to the criminal side, the animal control division,” said Fitzgerald.

Jim Henderson, head of Somerset County’s Animal Control Department, said while he has not had issues recovering the costs associated with taking care of an abused or neglected animal, he supports legislation that would help other shelters do the same.

“It just seems like the animal control departments are so far down in the food chain for funding, our budgets are so minuscule that every little bit of help we can get to help retrieve our initial investments helps the taxpayer and the animals,” Henderson said

If passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by the governor, the legislation would assign ownership of the abused animal to the organization taking care of it. The bill would also require those convicted of animal cruelty to pay all reasonable costs involved in removing, feeding, housing, treating or euthanizing the animal.

Those convicted of felony aggravated cruelty to animals now face a maximum penalty of three years in prison or a $5,000 fine or both. The court also has the right to order anyone convicted of animal cruelty to undergo and pay for psychological counseling.

The bills, co-sponsored by Sens. Richard Colburn and Jim Mathias and Delegates Jeanne Haddaway-Riccio, Norman Conway, Adelaide Eckardt, Mike McDermott and Charles Otto, have received hearings in both chambers; however, similar legislation has already been passed in the senate.

Senate Bill 203, sponsored by Sen. Bobby Zirkin, D-11-Baltimore City, similarly would authorize judges to order those convicted of animal abuse to pay for the costs associated with taking care of the animal. It would not, however, assign ownership of the animal to the shelter or rescue center taking care of it.

While that particular Senate bill has been passed with a third reading, the House bill it is cross-filed with has not had any action taken since a hearing on Feb. 16.

Regardless of which bill would become law, it would help shelters throughout Maryland.

“This bill really captures a lot of the problems we’ve always had, which is who is going to pay the cost,” said Delegate Mike McDermott, R-38B-Worcester, who is co-sponsoring House Bill 336.

“A lot of times we have people who are convicted or held responsible, but there hasn’t been much recourse for the person who takes care of the animal. I think it would be good to have that as a mechanism.”

Posted on March 14, 2012, in news and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on HB336 …what are your thoughts.

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