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Bill to protect feral cat caregivers wilts in Maryland legislature

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A proposal to give Maryland feral cat caregivers certain legal protections failed to receive approval during the 2014 legislative session that ended this week.

Introduced in both the House and Senate, the bill would have prohibited local and county governments from enacting or enforcing a ban on feeding or providing veterinary care to unowned “community cats” who live outdoors. It also would have protected caregivers of such cats from being prosecuted for abandonment for getting these cats veterinary care, such as spaying/neutering, and then returning them to their outdoor homes.

The legislation had the backing of Best Friends Animal Society, a national organization based in Utah that is sponsoring a major trap-neuter-return program in Baltimore. However, the measure stalled in both chambers amid opposition from several groups, including the Maryland Association of Counties, which saw it as infringing on the authority of county governments.

Anne Benaroya, director of the Maryland Animal Law Center, told that she and other proponents of the bill plan to try to resurrect it in 2015.

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