Maryland Lawmakers To Discuss Stricter Animal Abuse Laws - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Maryland Lawmakers To Discuss Stricter Animal Abuse Laws

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Dog rescued from the Puppy Mill in Eden (WBOC) Dog rescued from the Puppy Mill in Eden (WBOC)
Robert and Susan Murphy Robert and Susan Murphy
Rescued dog from alleged puppy mill. (Photo: WBOC) Rescued dog from alleged puppy mill. (Photo: WBOC)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – As Maryland Lawmakers prepare to begin the 2017 legislative session, the issue of making animal abuse laws stricter will be up for debate. District 38 Sen. Jim Mathias is introducing two new bills that would make certain abuse cases a felony and establish a registry for animal abuse criminals.

The push for harsher penalties comes in the wake of a shocking case out of Wicomico County.

In April 2015, roughly 300 dogs were rescued from a property located on the 5000 block of Cooper Road in the Eden area. It took animal control and the sheriff's office 14 hours to remove the dogs. 

Most of the dogs removed from the property were Pomeranians.

On Monday, Robert and Susan Murphy were indicted on 84 charges - including animal cruelty as well as face felony charges not directly related to animal abuse. As the law currently stands, animal abuse is a misdemeanor.

The first bill would make the mistreatment of ten or more animals a felony with a maximum penalty of a $2,500 fine and/or 3 years in prison.

Aaron Balsamo, executive director of the Humane Society of Wicomico County, whose organization took in a majority of the dogs, called the legislation is a positive sign.

"Really the biggest things that's encouraging to see”, said Balsamo, “are legislators looking at different ways that they can help organizations like us."

The second bill establishes a registry for those who are found guilty of animal abuse crimes. Balsamo said this would allow organizations throughout the state a better way of keeping tabs on people who may move from one county to another.

Both bills are scheduled for hearings on Jan. 18.

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