Maryland Votes for Animals (MVFA) is an organization with one overriding mission: To create an ever-growing voting bloc of animal advocates who will elect representatives willing to champion and vote for animal protection legislation, and to hold politicians accountable to their constituents.
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The Maryland General Assembly has been in session since January 13th and we have been working hard on animal legilsation! Here is an update on what bills have been introduced:
Aggravated Cruelty in the Presence of a Minor (SB 59) - Increases the penalties for crimes committed against animals in the presence of a minor. This bill is awaiting a vote in the Judicial Proceedings Committee.
The 2016 Maryland General Assembly Session begins on January 13th and it’s time to gear up for 12 weeks of action! Maryland Votes For Animals has been working non-stop with legislators and animal advocates to get strong laws passed for the animals in 2016.Read the rest of: Animal Legislation Update for 2016
The following Op-Ed appeared in the 11/20/15 Baltimore Sun:
End the senseless trophy killing of Md. black bears
For the 12th year in a row, your state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) enthusiastically supported the trophy killing of black of bears in Western Maryland for those among the 2 percent of Marylanders who hunt for sport.
DNR allowed the hunt even though the majority of Marylanders are opposed to such efforts, favoring non-lethal wildlife management alternatives.Read the rest of: Baltimore Sun Op-Ed: End the senseless trophy killing of Md. black bears
Make Possession of Animal Fighting Paraphernalia Illegal in Maryland and Close the Loophole in Our Dogfighting law.
Dogfighting is cruelty on an extreme scale and brings organized crime, guns, and drug dealing to our neighborhoods. Animal fighting is a brutal contest in which two animals are put in a pit to fight to the death or near-death of one of the animals. In some instances, one of the animals may be a bait dog, cat, or other animal. Dogfighting is violent, sadistic, and illegal.
Animal fighters use specialized equipment to ready animals for fighting and to stage the illegal fights. Dogfighters use contraptions on the animals such as rape stands to forcibly impregnate dogs, cat mills where smaller live animals are used as practice prey, and treadmills for training with heavy weights around the animal’s neck and body. Although dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states, possessing dog fighting equipment for illegal fighting is not a crime in Maryland.
This is a serious loophole in Maryland's law. Maryland needs to rid our communities of dogfighting, and outlawing possession of animal fighting paraphernalia is critically important to this effort.Read the rest of: Dog Fighting, A Compassionate Conversation
On Monday (10/26/15), Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) once again allowed Maryland’s black bears to be trophy hunted. There are no quotas on the total number of bears the hunters can kill.
Even the baby bears, called cubs, are legal. Some killed in the past were under 6 months old.
Children can hunt too, wielding high-powered rifles as weapons assuming they have the proper licenses. Five year olds have passed the necessary Maryland “Hunter Education Requirements.” In addition, hunters may use bows and arrows as killing instruments: A practice requiring them to hit the bear with an arrow, then wait and track it after it suffers from its wound while "bleeding out", assuming the hunter can even find the bear at all after it runs away hurt.
DNR has ignored the wishes of the majority of Marylanders, who oppose bear hunting (according a survey conducted by Gonzales Research and Marketing Strategies). DNR has also refused a $75,000 offer from HSUS to pay farmers for alleged crop damage caused by black bears in return for not opening bear hunting season at all.
DNR has yet to produce any scientific evidence supporting a need for holding these generalized bear hunts. Instead, virtually all of the written documentation points to requests by hunting lobby groups asking DNR for a bear hunting season.
Bear hunting in Maryland represents a classic example of how the less than 2% of Marylanders who hunt, have a stranglehold on our statewide elected politicians, and our DNR policies and philosophy about wildlife management in our state. Time for change is long overdue.Read the rest of: Maryland Black Bear Trophy Killing Starts Monday!
A U.S. District Court has ruled (for the first time ever) that a state Ag-Gag law is unconstitutional! The case, filed by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, is a huge step in preventing notoriously harmful Ag-Gag legislation in Maryland and across the country. The court found an Idaho Ag-Gag law violated the 1st and 14th Amendments and was motivated by unconstitutional animus against animal advocates.
Under Ag-Gag laws, journalists and members of the public are at risk for documenting animal cruelty or life-threatening safety violations. In holding the Ag-Gag law unconstitutional, the Court found:
- "ALDF has come forward with abundant evidence that the law was enacted with the discriminatory purpose of silencing animal rights activists who conduct undercover investigations in the agricultural industry."
- "The effect of the statute will be to suppress speech...concerning topics of great public importance: the safety of the public food supply, the safety of agricultural workers, the treatment and health of farm animals, and the impact of business activities on the environment."