The Maryland General Assembly passed two pieces of legislation aimed at protecting dogs in the state, but failed to vote on the "pit bill compromise" that made headlines earlier this year.
The bill that would have removed the "inherently dangerous" label from pit bulls was allowed to die in the state House of Delegates last night. It passed the state Senate earlier in the week, but was tabled in the House after a loud debate over it. The bill would have made all dog owners -- not just those who have pit bulls -- liable for dog bites. More than 30 states currently have similar laws on the books.
Two other bills affecting dog owners passed this session: the first establishes a state spay/neuter program, which will provide grants and vouchers for low- or no-cost spay/neuter services to state residents. The bill was designed to reduce animal shelter overpopulation and high euthanasia rates by those shelters.
Also passed was the "bait dog" bill, also known as Molly's Law after a puppy used as a dogfight bait dog who was found badly injured in an abandoned Baltimore house. She eventually died of her injuries. The new law treats dog baiting the same as dog fighting, which was already illegal, with penalties of up to three years in jail and fines of up to $5,000.
Both laws will take effect on Oct. 1.