Overall, the Animal Legal Defense Fund ranks Maryland 36th among states and territories for the strength and comprehensiveness of animal protection laws, including cases of abuse, neglect and abandonment. Maryland's ranking rose last year after a new law allowed animals to be included in domestic-violence protective orders, which means a judge can award custody of the family pet and block an abusive partner from access.
The way to advance the laws is for pet owners to actively push for change, Heiser said. "My advice is: 'Don't accept the status quo.'"
Runde said the state board regularly advocates for strengthening consumer protections.
For instance, the board pushed for legislation boosting potential fines for repeat misconduct. It also pushed for the 2009 law that allowed it to increase the annual continuing education requirement from 12 to 18 hours.
"Our mission is to protect the public, period," Runde said. "At the end of the day we're always looking at new ways to do that."