Oppose Maryland HB 169- Lacks Due Process for Dog Owners/Guardians
Safe, humane communities are important. So are a dog owner/guardian's right not to have his pet declared "dangerous" without notice, a hearing, or an appeal process. HB 169 lacks all of those constitutional protections.
The "dangerous" defintion, in addition to the lack of due process, is troubling. For example, if my dog went to a dog park and another dog attacked him and my dog fought back, it could be deemed "dangerous" without a notice or a hearing.
HB 169 would require any dog who was automatically deemed "dangerous" because it killed or inflicted severe injury on a domestic animal while it was off its owners property to be confined at home or in a pen, and the owners would have to provide $300,000 worth of liability insurance to keep their pet.
The bill is scheduled to be heard February 10. Please sign the petition and oppose this bill unless it is amended.
HB 169 lacks the necessary constitutional due process provisions -- notice, a hearing, and an appeal process -- before declaring someone's pet "dangerous" and possibly seizing and destroying it.
This bill would make any dog automatically "dangerous" if it inflicted serious injury on a domestic animal off its owner's property. So if a dog attacked my dog at a dog park and my dog responded and injured that dog, he could be deemed "dangerous" without a hearing. If my pet sitter took my dog home and he injured her cat or her hamster he woud be considered "dangerous." I'd have to keep him at my residence or in a pen for the rest of his life and obtain $300,000 worth of liability insurance each year, if I could find it.
Dog owners should have a right to a hearing before their dog is declared "dangerous." Communities would be better served if the Legislature targeted "reckless" owners, like the states of Minnesota and Illinois. Illinois prevents anyone convicted of a forcible felony from owning an unsterilized dog. In Minnesota if you've owned a "dangerous" dog on a couple of occasions you can't own a dog again in that state.
In the very least, adequate procedural due process protections must be added to HB 169. Please oppose this bill unless it is amended.
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