Editorial Advisory Board//March 22, 2023
//March 22, 2023
Last week The Baltimore Sun and WMAR 2 News reported an unprecedented number of animals being surrendered to local animal shelters because of the rapid rise in evictions. A record-setting 828 pets arrived at the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter in January alone.
With approximately 72% of Maryland renters having companion animals and many being challenged with housing insecurities the traumatic additional loss of their pet could be remedied with the passage of HB102/SB279.
Maryland HB102/SB279 creates a process that ensures pet owners are provided with the resources and information necessary to reunify with their pets in the event they are separated during eviction. Local shelters report many families arrive with no information about their pets and sadly most are never located.
Surrenders from animal control also arrive with no information on the property from which they are taken. And tragically, some pets are left languishing in abandoned homes and apartments.
The bipartisan bill requires The Maryland Department of Agriculture to develop, publish and update regularly a fact sheet on the care and protection of animals in the event of eviction or loss of possession of property. This information would be available on the MDA website and at the execution of a lease the landlord would include a description of the fact sheet and its location on the website.
When issuing specified warrants, the Maryland Judiciary would include a description and location of the fact sheet on the MDA website as well.
Further, when possession of real property is delivered to the landlord, the sheriff, constable or other official is required to immediately inspect the premises for any pet. If the tenant is not present the official must contact an animal shelter or rescue organization to take custody of the pet and provide notice of their information to the tenant and the tenant’s contact information to the shelter/organization.
The bill prohibits the animal from being left on the premises or put out on the streets.
Due to the expiration of pandemic rental assistance, evictions will only continue to increase. We strongly encourage the Maryland Legislature to pass this commonsense protection for people and pets.
EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS
James B. Astrachan, Chair
James K. Archibald
Gary E. Bair
Andre M. Davis
Arthur F. Fergenson
Julie C. Janofsky
Ericka N. King
Susan F. Martielli
Angela W. Russell
Debra G. Schubert
H. Mark Stichel
The Daily Record Editorial Advisory Board is composed of members of the legal profession who serve voluntarily and are independent of The Daily Record. Through their ongoing exchange of views, members of the board attempt to develop consensus on issues of importance to the bench, bar and public. When their minds meet, unsigned opinions will result. When they differ, or if a conflict exists, majority views and the names of members who do not participate will appear. Members of the community are invited to contribute letters to the editor and/or columns about opinions expressed by the Editorial Advisory Board.r