Maryland bill seeks to curb euthanization in animal shelters

When Maryland lawmakers get back to business in Annapolis next week, they’ll have a slew of new bills on their desks.

One of them aims to dramatically reduce the number of shelter animals that are euthanized.

The legislator behind the move is Maryland House Delegate Mark Chang.

He represents parts of Anne Arundel County, and he’s been looking for ways to set standards for animal shelters when they can, and he’s been looking for ways to set standards for animal shelters for when they can, and cannot put shelter animals down.

What he’s come up with is House Bill 57, and he says he hopes to put Maryland at the forefront of states that have a high animal shelter save rate of 90 percent.

Chang believes they can reach that lofty goal if the state requires shelters to work to reunite animals found as strays with their owners whenever possible.

The bill would require shelters to make and attempt to identify an animal by checking for license tags or microchips within 24 hours of housing the animal.

They would also have to prominently post their hours and the process for owners to recover their pets who end up there.

The idea is that, if they can re-unite strays with their owners, the animals would have less of a risk of being euthanized.

The law that Chang has crafted does acknowledge the reality that some shelters are compelled to euthanize animals. 

The bill would require Maryland shelters to check with other facilities that may have room, or making reasonable attempts to find foster care when permanent placement isn’t available.

The proposal would also bar shelters from banning the transfer of an animal based on its breed.