Pets are regarded as an important part of the family in increasingly more homes around the world and especially after the pandemic kicked in and people started recognizing the need of having a loyal, furry pal by their side through the harsh times. As such, while the United States is not as pet-friendly as other European destinations like Italy and Belgium, several states in the country have successfully created laws aimed at protecting the souls that can’t advocate for themselves, guiding pet owners towards better care practices, and defending homeless animals. The case of Maryland is startling – in some aspects, it is pet-friendly and puts emphasis on the well-being of animals. However, more procedures are needed with regard to the law.
More than half of Marylanders have welcomed pets into their homes in the past years, paying increased attention to different aspects that have a direct impact on their life, ranging from the safety of their environment to the quality of the pet food processing involved in the creation of the supplies bought. This can’t help but raise the question of whether Maryland is a pet heaven and how well-treated the wordless souls are within the borders of the state.
To better understand where pets stand in Maryland, let’s discover how they’re treated under state and federal law, what pet-oriented laws have been enacted so far, and how many places welcome pets with open arms.
Maryland is the second U.S. state to ban onychectomy
The act of declawing cats has long been touted as an inhumane, invasive, and violent practice done only for human convenience, and not to benefit the cat’s health or well-being in any potential way. Many pet owners and advocates have condemned this practice, whether it is conducted at a veterinary cabinet or at home. As such, almost 25 countries worldwide have already banned the act of declawing pets, or onychectomy as it’s also known, deeming it a risk-filled practice with more detrimental implications than meets the eye. When it comes to the United States, so far, there only two states have successfully passed onychectomy bans, with Maryland following the example of New York in 2022. The bill forbids veterinarians from cutting cats’ claws under a strict set of circumstances, interdicting this practice regardless of whether the purpose would be to make them easier to handle, for cosmetic reasons, or any other requirement a potential client would have. Those breaking the law may face harsh penalties in the form of fines and even have their veterinary license suspended.
Additionally, the retail sale of kittens and puppies is illegal. The measure aims at eliminating “puppy mills”, also known as puppy farms, that sustain dog breeding under poor conditions. What is otherwise permitted is the sale of rabbits, dogs, and cats that come from animal shelters and are properly cared for.
The most recently implemented law prohibits leaving dogs in extreme conditions
Maryland passed a bill in 2022 that bans leaving dogs outside and unattended for more than half an hour without proper conditions or in situations that could harm their health. Examples include extreme heat or cold, meaning temperatures that don’t reach 32 degrees Fahrenheit or are above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, pet owners must provide their companions with proper conditions and shelter at all costs. The recently enacted law severely punishes lawbreakers, mandating anyone associated with charges of harsh neglect and cruelty to support the financial consequences during the investigation.
Pets are generally regarded as personal property under the Maryland law
Under Maryland law, any pet owned by an individual is seen as personal property. This has implications in the case of divorces, where the once-married individuals are often confronting the problems of sharing custody over the pet. Since the animals are seen as properties, the Court mainly treats them as in other cases of shared custody, with several instances requiring the help of a specialized lawyer to help overcome arising challenges. Just like the law regards the best interests of children when two partners separate, the same ideology is applied in the case of pets. However, as this is an increasingly controversial topic in divorces, the family law courts may also consider other aspects besides the pets’ wellness.
The most pet-friendly places in Maryland
With an animal feed industry that continues to expand year-on-year, many businesses look to capitalize on the emerging trends and people’s increased interest in the health and safety of their pets. As such, businesses are developing pet-conscious food, supplies, and treats, profiting from the rising demand for healthy and nutritional products. Besides a great deal of responsibility, pet owners in Maryland are encouraged to provide the best care for their companions, with more and more restaurants and eateries allowing clients to enter accompanied by their pets. Additionally, Maryland has dog-friendly restaurants that don’t only welcome customers’ furry pals with open arms, but also provide a pet-friendly environment that looks after their needs. This practice is commonplace in many places in the world, and while Maryland wasn’t exactly the most tolerant state with animals among the U.S. states, improvements are starting to be seen in this regard, making pet owners breathe relief knowing they won’t have to deal with the range of challenges brought by unfair treatment.
There are several pet-friendly environments where caregivers can take their companions and ensure they have a good time, including the following two:
- Parks. Every pet owner desires to walk their pets freely in the park, play with them, and see them run and consume the energy gathered throughout the day. However, parks in Maryland emphasize the health and safety of everyone visiting the place and only allow dogs that have every obligatory vaccination, such as rabies vaccination. Additionally, pets are not allowed in parks unleashed. As a pet owner, any mess left behind by the pet must be cleaned up, ensuring the visited places remain intact.
- Beaches. Just like businesses in the food industry are taking advantage of the shifting trends, local enterprises also capitalize on pet owners’ desire to maintain the health and well-being of their pets. As such, individuals can find canine swimming areas and beaches that offer plenty of space for the companion to splash, additionally putting at clients’ disposal nice places to enjoy the views.
Maryland is making strides toward ensuring pet owners are taking proper care of their companions, banning unhealthy or unjust practices, and encouraging everyone to pay increased attention to the needs of their companions.