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WBAL Report: Bills crack down on puppy mills, dog fighting

Proposal would make it illegal to possess dog-fighting equipment

By Feb 04, 2016 See the original report at WBAL

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Pet owners from across Maryland are calling on lawmakers to pass legislation cracking down on puppy mills and illegal dog fighting.

Some 130 animal advocates fanned out Thursday to lobby lawmakers. They want to keep unlicensed breeders out of pet stores and make it illegal to possess dog-fighting equipment.

Jenna Marshall said that when the pet store where she worked discovered Hope, a bulldog, is deaf, they decided to send her back to the breeder. That's when Marshall intervened.

"She's pretty calm, because she can't hear things around her. She's super sweet. She's actually really athletic," Marshall said.

The ASPCA is backing two bills, one that requires Maryland pet stores to purchase animals only from licensed breeders.

"What this bill would do is it would say, if you want to sell a dog to a Maryland pet store, you have to be licensed under the federal law," said Chloe Waterman, with the ASPCA.

The bill goes after puppy mills, unregulated places where critics contend dogs are inhumanely bred and raised without the benefit of veterinarians or even human touch.

Current Maryland law requires pet stores to disclose the origin of the puppies they sell, but most fail to comply or capitalize on a loophole that allows them to sell dogs and cats along the roadside, at public auction or flea markets. The bill closes that loophole.

Another bill targets dog-fighting equipment. They look like things you'd find in a torture chamber: Heavy chains, breaking sticks to pry dogs apart, breeding stands and specially rigged wires to fatally electrocute dogs that lose a fight. The legislation creates a misdemeanor penalty for possessing this type of equipment.

"We are ranked 46th in the country for our animal-cruelty penalties, and passing these bills this session will go a long way toward improving that ranking," Waterman said.

Buying from unlicensed breeders carries a fine of up to $1,500. Penalties for possessing dog-fighting equipment include 90 days in jail, a $5,000 fine or both. Bill hearings begin next week.

View this report on the WBAL-TV website

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